Did you know that the month of March is Endometriosis Awareness Month? Now you must be thinking what the heck is endometriosis, the likelihood is that you probably know someone that has it. Endometriosis affects approximately 11% of women between ages 15 to 44 – that’s about 1 out of every 10 women out there! Although it is curable if found at early to mid-stage, it is often overlooked because the symptoms are often ‘normalised’, meaning a lot of people would usually take an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce the symptoms and never get properly diagnosed.

I can relate to this painful disorder, as I myself have Endometriosis and didn’t know until I reached my late 30’s. First, let me give you some facts & tips about endometriosis and then I will fill you in on my own condition below.

What is Endrometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that forms the lining of your uterus grows outside your uterine cavity. This disorder usually runs in families, which means that it is likely to be genetic, so talk to the other women in your family to see if they have it too.

Endometriosis is a common gynecological condition. In simple terms, endometriosis occurs when the endometrium, the tissue that lines the inside of a woman’s uterus and is shed during the menstrual cycle, grows outside the uterine cavity. During a women’s menstrual cycle, the hormonal changes cause the endometrial tissue outside the cavity to become inflamed and painful.

There is no cure for endometriosis, but the symptoms can be managed.

Symptoms of Endrometriosis?

Endometriosis usually affects women from the average age of 20 to 40 and the symptoms vary in types and pain severity. If you think you might have endometriosis, your first step is to visit your Gynecologist.

Symptoms include:
      • Excessive heavy period
      • Severe menstrual cramps
      • Chronic pelvic pain
      • Pain during or after sex
      • Fatigue before and during menstruation
      • Migraines during menstruation
      • Pain during urination during menstruation
      • Dizziness & Fainting during menstruation
      • Blood in your stool or urine
      • Discomfort with bowel movements during menstruation
      • Infertility

There are a few factors you can look out for to see if you potentially have endometriosis so that you can prevent the situation from getting worst, these include:

      • The inability to conceive
      • Starting your period at an early age
      • Short menstrual cycles (less than 27 days),
      • Heavy menstrual periods that usually last longer than 7 days,
      • Having higher levels of oestrogen in your body or greater lifetime exposure to oestrogen produces
      • Low body mass index
      • One or more relatives who have endometriosis,
      • Any medical condition that prevents the normal passage of menstrual flow out of the body
      • Reproductive tract abnormalities.
      • These can be diagnosed through a visit to your Gynecologist, so it’s highly recommended at least once a year.

What treatments are available?

There is currently no cure for endometriosis. You can control endometriosis by “hormone therapy”, aka birth control pills. For some severe cases, you can consult your doctor regarding laparoscopic. Endometriosis is related to hormones and mensuration and will go away when a woman enters into menopause.

Helpful Tips to Ease Discomfort

Those who are suffering from endometriosis can have elevated menstrual symptoms. There are some things you can do to help ease the pain. As always, make sure you consult with your doctor to get further information and a advice.

Here are just some of the things you should try:

(1) Take it Easy

If you know that your cycle is coming in a day or two, just be prepared and stay comfortable. Don’t over-exert yourself when doing house chores or at work. Take a day to rest if you start experiencing mild pain, headache, or discomfort during your premenstrual or menstrual stages.

(2) Take Medicine

Endometriosis pain is usually greater than normal menstrual pain. If the pain is too much, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever and if that doesn’t work, ask your doctor for a stronger painkiller to take as needed.

(3) Use Natural Oils

Essential oils are not only helpful with headaches or easing anxiety, but it is also useful to reduce menstrual pain. Some essential oils that you can try are:

      • Peppermint Essential Oil
      • Lavender Essential Oil
      • Cypress Oil
      • Clary Sage Essential Oil
      • Rose Essential Oil
      • Copaiba Essential Oil
      • Cinnamon Essential Oil

(4) Take Vitamins & Supplements

Vitamins and supplements can help with your period and Endometriosis symptoms. Here are a few vitamins and supplements that are you can try to alleviate menstrual symptoms:

      • Magnesium
      • B Vitamins
      • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
      • Vitamin D
      • Vitamin E
      • Flavonoids

Make sure to check with your doctor or naturopath to see if there are any other supplements that you should be taking.

(5) Adjust your Diet

To prevent pain and inflammation that is caused by endometriosis, it’s advisable to have a well-balanced diet that focused primarily on organic plant-based meals that are full of vitamins and minerals. Your daily consumption includes:

      • Fiber-rich foods: Vegetables, whole grains, and fruits
      • Iron-rich foods: dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, and broccoli
      • Foods that are rich in essential fatty acids: Salmon, chia seeds, flax seeds, and halibut
      • Antioxidant-rich foods: Berries, dark chocolate, beets, spinach, and kale

You might also want to consider seeking advice from a registered dietician as they will be able to guide you with planning your meals and decide what works best for you.

(6) Reach for Anti-Inflammatory Food

Eating foods that are anti-inflammatory will work as natural relief and optimize blood flow which will relax your uterus, which will ease your cramps. Try berries, tomatoes, pineapples and spices like ginger, turmeric and garlic. Leafy greens as well as nuts can also reduce inflammation.

(7) Drink More Water

Heavy menstrual cycles or cramps can cause bloating and extreme discomfort. Drinking more water can increase blood flow throughout your body, reduce muscle spasms in the uterus.

(8) Exercise

Exercising can be extra unappealing during your cramps but this will help reduce inflammation. Getting some sweat out or even a simple yoga session can relieve stress and you’ll feel much better once the session is over.

(9) Use Heat or Ice

Heat can help your muscles relax, promote blood flow and relieve tension in your body – this is also great for cramps. A hot bath or a heat pad will really help alleviate the pain. Alternatively, ice-packs also are really helpful if you suffer from menstrual migraines. 

(10) Get a Massage

Massage therapy not only helps to reduce stress, but it can be highly effective for reducing menstrual pain and for endometriosis as well. A massage will help to decrease uterus spasms, keep your body inflow and also aid other period symptoms such as fatigue, water retention, breast tenderness, and mood swings so opt for a massage session with a focus on the abdominal area.

SuperMommy’s Thoughts

As an endometriosis sufferer myself, I wanted to make sure that women are aware of what endometriosis is and that they are not alone. Although I have had this condition since I reached puberty, I did not know what endometriosis was until I was in my late 30’s and had stopped my birth control pills.

When I was young I did have a variety of symptoms while on my period, but just suffered through it and never visited the doctor. From the age of 22 onwards I was on birth control pills or pregnant or breastfeeding, so my endometriosis was under control. Since endometriosis is connected to a women’s hormones, I was unaware that I even had a condition.

After having my second child, I decided not to go back onto the pill and one year after I finished breastfeeding Xavion, I started having severe symptoms during my periods. After consulting with my gynecologist, I found out that I had endometriosis, which was controlled for all these years because I was either on the pill, pregnant or breastfeeding. I later found out that my older sister has endometriosis too.

To control my symptoms, over the last few years I have gone on and off of birth control pills, however I have stopped and now do suffer each month. Many of the tips I have given you do help, but they are not a cure – there is no cure. It’s an ongoing struggle, and it is important to build awareness so that teens, young women and even older women like me, are able to get the advice they need for this condition. 

If you think you might suffer from endometriosis make sure you get an ultrasound by your gynecologist and find out what is the best way to move forward. 

Happy to answer any questions you might have – feel free to reach out to me in the comments below.