This month is Endometriosis Awareness month. If you’re wondering why a whole month has been dedicated to endometriosis, it’s for good reason. It’s an incredibly challenging, and all–too–common disease, with at least 1 in 10 women in New Zealand experiencing Endometriosis. We say at least one in ten as it is known to be one of the most undiagnosed conditions for women.
Because endometriosis is so common, whether it’s something you experience personally or someone you know, we’re going to shed a little more light on what it is, how you can recognise endometriosis and some ways you can support your body if you have it.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis (Endo) is a whole-body inflammatory disease where—tissue similar to the tissue that lines the uterus (endometrium)—grows outside of the uterus, in places where it is not meant to be. This tissue is most commonly found in the pelvic region, and often on the pelvic ligaments, ovaries and bowel, which can lead to severe pain, inflammation and other signs of distress in affected areas.
The Road to Diagnosis
The road to diagnosis of endometriosis is typically long; with the average length of time found to be 8 years after first symptoms presenting. It’s common for symptoms to initially be referred to as ‘bad periods’ and attempted to be managed or masked rather than investigated. Endometriosis is also often mistaken for conditions with similar symptoms, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. To be formally diagnosed with endometriosis, laparoscopic surgery is required, this is often referred to as ‘keyhole’ surgery where tissue is removed from affected areas for further testing.
The most common sign of endometriosis is period pain and cramping in your pelvic region; either with each cycle or fairly constantly, and it’s often very debilitating.
Other signs of endometriosis can include:
- Pain in other places such as the lower back
- Bleeding between periods
- Heavy bleeding during your period
- Frequent digestive upset, including constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, or gas
- Pain with sex
- Recurring bladder problems
- Pain with urination and bowel movements
- Difficulty falling pregnant
How can you support endometriosis?
Alongside seeking support from your medical professional, at the BePure Clinic we’re incredibly passionate and experienced in supporting and managing endometriosis with tweaks to your diet, lifestyle and extra nutritional support.
Because endometriosis is primarily an inflammatory disease, all recommendations work to reduce inflammation in the body, soothing the symptoms and supporting healing. With all recommendations, if they feel like a lot, try and take steps at a time and hopefully get some wins that spur you on to trying more.
What to eat to support endometriosis
Remember it’s not about trying to add in or remove all of these at once. Try one at a time, especially when minimsing food and drinks.
Add in plenty of anti-inflammatory foods
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale
- Green tea
- Nuts like almonds and walnuts
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
- Turmeric, ideally fresh
- Dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
Minimise or remove inflammatory food and drinks
- Alcohol, try swapping for one of these delicious mocktails or good quality kombucha
- Gluten, there are so many delicious gluten free bread, cracker and pasta options now
- Refined sugar, try the 70% dark chocolate!
- Caffeine, try swapping for an anti-inflammatory turmeric late
- Processed grains
- Dairy products, we love the coconut or almond milk options in the fridge section of health stores/supermarkets and savoury yeast for adding ‘cheesy’ flavour to dishes
Lifestyle tips to support endometriosis
Managing stress levels
While we can think of stress as a mental load, it also creates massive inflammation in the body, making the load it puts on our body something to be very aware of. Try some of the below to both soothe and manage stress;
- Deep belly breathing
- Doing things you love
- Prioritising good relationships and being mindful of where you put your energy
- Understanding where stress comes from
Exercising right for you
As the saying goes–motion is lotion– try to find some safe and restorative exercise for you that also soothes inflammation and stress.
- Walking in nature is a great option
- Gentle yoga-based stretches have multiple benefits for your nervous system, lymphatic system & pelvic floor muscles
- Sweat it out if your nervous system can manage it
Nutrients to top up on to support endometriosis
Again, reducing inflammation is a top priority, luckily there are plenty of nutritional supplements that you can top up on daily to support keeping inflammation at bay
- A good quality fish oil such as BePure Three is powerful for bringing down inflammation levels - there’s good evidence for a decent dose of omega-3 helping to reduce period-pain.
- Try a good quality magnesium supplement–we have BePure Magnesium Restore– for its many benefits, including supporting relaxation of your muscles (key for how you experience pain), blood sugar balance and stress management.
- Feed your gut with the good bugs from a quality probiotic - research shows there’s an important connection between the microbiome (balance of bacteria in our gut) and endometriosis.
- Zinc is a mineral involved in SO many (over 200) enzyme reactions in the body, it plays an important role in immunity, is a precursor in hormone production and helps decrease inflammation.
While the above can all work to support and soothe endometriosis, it is a complex disease with varying experiences for many. If reading this has sparked further questions or curiosity around your experience with endometriosis, book in a free chat with our incredible team-to learn more about how our expert team could support you on your journey.
**If you suspect that you may have Endometriosis, reach out to your GP, and/or seek a gynaecologist who specialises in Endometriosis. Keep a diary of symptoms, pain management and how it may be affecting your day-to-day. If you would like to learn more about Endometriosis, head to https://nzendo.org.nz/ for trusted, practical information.**