The intense pain struck like a stabbing knife. The bloody war has started. They say you just have to fight it for 7 days and you’ll win it. No, that’s wrong. This is a Endometriosis War and no girls or women have to fight this every single month.
March 24th is Worldwide EndoMarch and World Endometriosis Day. Did you know that endometriosis affects an estimated 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years (usually between the ages of 15 to 49), which is about 176 million women in the world.
Yes, 176 million.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which endometrial tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus, grows outside your uterus as well. Most of the time, endometriosis involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvic area.
With endometriosis, endometrial tissue in the wrong places will continue to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds during period. Because this displaced tissue has no way to come out of your body, it becomes trapped. And, because it’s not supposed to be there in the first place, the neighbouring tissues can become irritated and eventually become scar tissues and adhesions, which can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other.
Endometriosis = Uterus War Zone
Foreign tissue-invaders are not welcomed and neighbouring tissues don’t like it.
Cause of Endometriosis
There are so many hypotheses but there is NO clear cut cause. No one knows, but most agree that is exacerbated by oestrogen.
Other factors include:
- Metaplasia – Meaning that one normal type of tissue changes into another normal type of tissue, but in the wrong place. (Eg. Uterus cells shouldn’t be in the lungs).
- Retrograde menses – Menses blood goes the wrong way, towards the fallopian tubes and deposits on the pelvic organs where it sits and grows. Rebellious retrograde blood in the wrong house!
- Genetics – First-degree relatives of women with this disease are more likely to develop endometriosis. Does your mum or sisters have it?
- Lymphatic distribution – Endometrial fragments may travel through blood vessels or the lymphatic system to other parts of the body such as the lung, brain, skin, or eye.
- Immune system dysfunction
- Environment – Perhaps toxins may be the cause. Hot food and drinks in plastic containers, pollution, pesticides,etc.
Diagnosis of Endometriosis
Endometriosis can only be diagnosed via laparoscopy (mini key hole surgery through your belly button). Doctors need to SEE the tissues during surgery.
This delays the diagnosis for up to 12 years! Doctors who are not specialised in this field may miss it during surgery (unless they curiously explore your uterus area) and women themselves might not even know they have it.
7 common symptoms of Endometriosis
- Pain in your pelvic area, belly or lower back. You may experience pelvic, lower back, or belly pain during your period or even longer.
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before your period and continue several days. Some are in so much pain that they have to take sick leave.
- Pain during or after sex (dyspareunia). This pain may feel deep and often changes depending on position.
- Excessive bleeding. Like changing your 25cm heavy flow pad every 1-2 hours is excessive. You may have occasional heavy periods or heavy bleeding between periods or spotting between periods. Normal period should clear in 7 days. Slight brown spotting can occur during ovulation (around day 14) but it should only last about a day or two.
- Difficulty getting pregnant (infertility). Couples should get checked out if they have been trying for 1 year without contraception.
- Pain with bowel movements or urination. Usually you’ll experience this during your period.
- Fatigue and digestive symptoms, bloating or nausea, especially during your menstrual periods.
Treatment for Endometriosis
Unfortunately, there is NO known treatment, but there are ways to help you feel better and improve your quality of life.
First of all, there is hormonal and surgery treatments. Since many agree that endometriosis is due to too much estrogen, the aim of treatment is to suppress estrogen production to suppress menses. (I think that’s so against nature…). Surgery is of course to remove the extra endothelium that is OUTSIDE of the uterus.
Yup, and then you’re off on your own.
TCM and Endometriosis
According to the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), endometriosis is known as “Menstrual Pain” due to its symptoms. Instead of going against nature and suppressing menses, we dig for the cause of the pain, regulate it, and balance whatever is out of shape so that your body can cope and function properly with ease.Endometriosis isn’t one disease: it’s several problems entangled together. Click To Tweet
In TCM, endometriosis can be categorised into 2 different types.
1. Excess (let’s call this “Strong” type)
2. Deficient (let’s call this “Weak” type)
1) Strong type
This is more common and is caused by blood stasis. This blood stasis can be due to stagnated Qi or Cold. In this type, usually the Liver is affected.
Usual symptoms: Heavy menses, dark and/or bright red menses, severe pain (usually in a fixed area), lots of blood clots during menses.
2) Weak type
This type can be due to lack of Qi or Blood or Yin and affects, Spleen, Liver and Kidney.
Usual symptoms: Brown or pale blood, scanty flow, irregular menses, pain is a dull and heavy, fatigue.
Most of the time, herbs that vitalise blood circulation are used. This includes Dan Shen, Dang Gui, Chi Shao ,Tao Ren, Hong Hua. Decoctions such as Si Wu Tang, Wen Jing Tang and Tong Jing Tang are good for nourishing and dispersing stagnated blood.
These acupuncture points are aimed to relief pain, regulate blood circulation and correct Qi energy imbalances.
Here are some points that can be acupuncture according to different types.
- Blood stagnation: Qi Hai, Zu San Li, Xue Hai, San Yin Jiao, He Gu, Tai Chong.
- Cold stagnation: Guan Yuan, Zhong Ji.
- Organ boosters: Add Zhang Men to boost Liver, Pi Shu to boost Spleen and Shen Shu to boost Kidney.
- Ear acupuncture: Kidney, Liver, Spleen, Endocrine gland, Uterus, Ovary.
Master ear points: Shen Men & Point Zero – ultimate reset point.
Balance is a central concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine. By needling or pressing the Master points, it can bring the towards homeostasis, creating a balanced energy, brain activity and hormones.
The easiest way to is apply heat pack on your lower tummy area. The heat can sometimes alleviate the pain, especially if its due to Cold stagnation. You can use products such as MenstruHeat or S$2 (USD1.50) heat pack from Daiso or Donki which I love to use. Cheap and good!
You can also find a tummy heat pouch like the one below. Put one heat pack into the pocket infront and it’ll keep you warm for 10 hours.
Also known as Shi Liao 食疗, TCM places great importance on diet. We love our food cooked, not raw. Meaning less salad, less sashimi, less ice blended smoothies.
Say yes to warm food
It’s because the Stomach is like a cooking pot. It needs the “fire” to “cook” the food you’ve eaten. Cooking makes the nutrients in food more easily absorbed without stress thus resulting in a greater nutritional gain. Some may argue that cooking destroys the nutrients in some way, but cooking in the correct way (such as steaming instead of microwaving) can help us digest better.
Here are some warm food list below. Try to have a little every day, especially during your period.
Don’t soup-rice it
Also, you shouldn’t drink too much water/tea before meal as it can dilute the stomach acid juice which may cause indigestion. In some Chinese cultures, they like to drink soup after the main course. Unlike the Westerners, they always have soup first.
Another habit that should be avoid is, putting soup on rice. When you eat soup-rice, you tend to drink the rice without biting properly. Digestion starts in the mouth, there the amylase in the saliva helps to break down the starch into small carbohydrate group better digestion in the small intestines. #imguilty
We all know that too much of a sweet thing is not good.
Too much sugar or sweet food can weaken the Spleen and, therefore, the healthy creation of Qi and Blood. Avoid excess refined sugar, honey, molasse, maple syrup, simple carbohydrates. Other food such as very oily food, high fat food, meat and dairy pumped with antibiotics and hormones (choose grass fed, organic or free range meat) and alcohol should also be limited too.
As Dr Hyman puts it, meat should be “condi-meat’. You know, like a condiment! Stick to 3 portions of vege and 1 your palm portion of really good quality meat and your body will thank you for it.
Here’s 5 takeaway:
- Caused when the lining of the uterus grows on the outside as well, causing a Uterus War Zone.
- Not ONE disease, it’s a orchestra of many things gone wrong in the body.
- According to TCM, catagorised into Strong and Weak types.
- Mainly due to Blood stagnation in the uterus area.
- Eased by taking in warm food & drinks and eating real whole food especially during period.
To show your support, you can join the EndoMarch in your region or make a donation here.
Do you know anyone suffering from endometriosis? Please share this info and end this pain.