The prevalence of endometriosis is much more common than you might think, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada report that 1 in 10 women of reproductive age have endometriosis and it was found to be present in at least half of the women who report experiencing chronic pelvic pain. For many women it may go undiagnosed until later in life when they experience fertility challenges. The most common symptom associated with endometriosis is pelvic pain that may range from mild to extreme and is directly related to the menstrual cycle.
For many women, pain and cramping prior to or during menstruation has been a symptom that they have always associated with menstruation and was presumed to be normal. Pain is the body’s way of telling us there is something blocked and/or out of balance. Pain and cramping with menstruation may be normal or common for many women, as the stats above show, but it does not mean it is ideal or healthy.
Each woman with endometriosis will experience symptoms differently depending on the location and extent of their endometriosis. In addition to pain, women may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation and nausea, as well as reproductive health concerns which include painful intercourse and fertility challenges.
Since the presentation of symptoms varies amongst women, the combination of treatment options that work for one woman may not necessarily work for another. This is where a holistic approach that addresses the individual and their unique presentation can be so beneficial. Using a combined approach of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, as well as dietary and lifestyle recommendations, relief of symptoms will often be seen in a few menstrual cycles. The conventional medical treatment of endometriosis typically involves oral contraceptive therapy which suppresses the growth of endometriotic tissue and/or surgery to remove the lesions. The approach with Chinese medicine treats the condition by addressing the specific mechanism causing pain and reducing other sources of inflammation that may be contributing to the full set of symptoms experienced. Therefore, treatment with acupuncture and herbal medicine can be either complementary or as an alternative to medical interventions.
What makes the pain worse?
Inflammation is the primary cause of pain and most of the other symptoms associated with endometriosis. Inflammation may be a result of food sensitivities, overexertion, trauma, chronic stress exposure, or autoimmune conditions. Identifying the causes and controlling the inflammation are the keys to getting relief.
What are the top 5 things that can be done to reduce inflammation and pain?
1. Avoid coffee and reduce salt intake
2. 30 minutes of gentle exercise daily to promote blood circulation
3. Avoid cold – ice water, ice cream, cold raw vegetables
4. Stress management – mindfulness training, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises (Qi gong)
5. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine
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