March is Endometriosis awareness month here in the UK, so let’s talk about this condition that affects 1 in 10 women.
Something I continue to find shocking is how long it can take to receive a formal endometriosis diagnosis. The average is between 7 – 10 years!
The only way at the present to receive a formal diagnosis is through an excision surgery, which is the gold standard for a diagnosis. This is a laparoscopic keyhole surgery done by an endometriosis specialist that provides confirmation of endometrial lesions and adhesions. For some, a laparoscopy can be a ‘fresh start’ that allows many adhesions and lesions to be removed. This can then give them the opportunity to address the gut and inflammation issues that can exacerbate many of the symptoms of endometriosis.
What’s really interesting is that some choose not to have a laparoscopy because they feel that they do not need to have a formal diagnosis to address their endometriosis and its symptoms. They have a clear view on what’s going on for them and have agreed, along with their doctor or consultant, that the issues are likely to be caused by endometriosis, rather than another similar condition such as IBS, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, interstitial cystitis or benign ovarian cysts.
If you’re not sure what endometriosis is, let’s back up a minute and get into that!
In endometriosis, cells similar to those that normally stay in the lining of the womb are also found in different parts of the body, such as the abdomen, bowels, bladder, legs and sometimes even the nose and lungs. These cells form endometrial tissue which become problematic because they inflame and shed every menstrual cycle along with the lining of the uterus. When it is outside of the uterus, this tissue has nowhere to go, which can result in pain, additional inflammation and eventually scarring.
Some of the symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, abdominal bloating (endo belly), painful urination and / or bowel movements, brain fog, diarrhoea, heavy periods, pelvic pain, painful sex, constipation, diarrhoea and depression.
Some of you may have heard from your GPs that “you should get pregnant because that will cure endometriosis”. Aside from the pure absurdity of using pregnancy as a treatment for a serious medical condition, the reality is that pregnancy can only provide a temporary relief from pain and other endometriosis symptoms until periods return post-partum.
Others may have been told that a hysterectomy, a full or partial removal of the uterus, ovaries and Fallopian tubes, will cure endometriosis. Unfortunately, this is not true because as I described above, the cells similar to those that grow in the uterus can also grow in different parts of the body.
In my next post, I’ll talk through different ways nutrition, supplements and lifestyle can support and reduce the symptoms of endometriosis.
Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones.
Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Boden, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.
Her first book You Can Have A Better Period was released in March 2022.