- Women's Health
Endometriosis Diet for Menstrual Pain Relief - My Success Story | Causes for Endometriosis (Part 1/3)
The pain was excruciating. It felt like the end of the world and something fatal was growing inside my body. Diagnosed with endometriosis (ovarian cysts) and adenomyosis at the same time can be the worst experience for women. It is not a fatal disease but it gives woman excruciating pain. I recalled when my gynaecologist first diagnosed my case, the first question he asked was, “How painful have it been for you?” and “Are you able to take the pain?” The only cure to my problem is hysterectomy, surgical remove of uterus. And that is the last thing I want in life.
It started with very painful cramps or periods during menstruation period, heavy periods with blood clot, chronic pelvic pain (which includes lower back pain and pelvic pain). I went from normal painkiller, Paracetamol, to Ponstan. The effectiveness just faded over time. The pain relief was short-lived and I told the pharmacist that I needed something that can last me 12 hours. So, I was prescribed with Celebrex. It didn’t help me for long. After a month or two, I saw the pharmacist again and told him that it wasn’t effective. The pain was so bad that I was not able to walk and sleep at night. I recalled having been up all night enduring the pain. I needed something that can give me 24 hours pain relief. So I ended up with Arcoxia, a very strong pain killer, normally used for patient undergone major surgical operation in hospital. Arcoxia was wonderful. I only get mild pain for 24 hours. I can walk, jump and smile like another good day. It really helped to relieve the pain. I took Arcoxia for almost a year, three to four tablets monthly. If you asked me if I was worried about my kidney, yes, I did, but I didn’t have any other choice. After a year, the sad news was, Arcoxia has also gradually lost its effectiveness. The hours of severe pain has slowly increased.
Causes for Endometriosis
Many speculations and theories have been put forward to explain the cause of Endometriosis. I believe there is no one singular cause for the disease. Despite being recognized long back in medical history, with the fact that there are probably over 70 million women in the world who have Endometriosis today, it does highlight that this is a modern epidemic. It would appear that this disease is acting as a measuring instrument, highlighting the vulnerability of the human body living in a modern, stressful, and highly polluted world. It is so unfortunate that women is the one who have to suffer from the severity of this damage and yet we have so little power and such a small voice, to be able to fight back and address this alarming issue.
Certain risk factors that make some women more vulnerable to developing endometriosis incude:
1) Excess of hormone estrogen or estrogen dominance in the body
2) High stress levels
3) High fat diet
4) Excess dietary caffeine
5) Excess alcohol
6) Hormone imbalance
7) Essential fatty acid deficiency
8) Low fibre diet
Sources of Estrogen
Where does this estrogen come from? According to researches,
1) before menopause, the woman produces estrogen by the follicle on the ovary.
2) before and after menopause, the woman produces estrogen herself in the body fat cells. The more fat you have, the more estrogen you produce.
3) woman gets it through estrogen pills, skin patch for hormone replacement or pills for birth control.
4) she may be getting estrogen effects from xenoestrogens, chemicals that mimic estrogens. These xenoestrogens include
a. estrogens fed to agricultural animals that we in turn consume,
b. detergent break down products,
c. plastic containers used for food and water, and
When women go through menopause (at around 50 of age), their estrogen production drops to 30%-50% of premenopause levels. An overweight woman after menopause will actually produce more estrogen than a skinny woman before menopause.
Learning From Mistakes
As I looked through the list above, I am actually the perfect candidate for endometriosis. Reason being:
1) I thrive on challenge and stress in life, and often live and work under stressful situation, and I enjoy such active lifestyle.
2) I love to eat all kinds of food, and enjoyed oily food such as deep fried food, tempura, etc, so I was overweight.
3) I indulged in coffee, sometimes up to 5 cups a day
4) I didn’t take fish oil or any other supplements
5) I didn’t bother to take organic food
So after going through two laparotomy operation to remove my ovarian cysts, I was lucky enough to bear a child. When my son was 5 years old, the familiar pain came back, and the ultra sound showed that the ovarian cyst has grown back again.
What are the Endometriosis symptoms?
If I have aroused your curiosity on whether you have endometriosis, then be informed that women with endometriosis commonly experience deep pain that occurs when they have their period, a condition known as primary dysmenorrhea.
Some women who have endometriosis do not have any symptoms. Of those who do experience symptoms, the common symptoms are:
1) Pelvic pain
- usually occurs during or just before menstruation and lessens after menstruation.
3) painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia) or cramping during intercourse,
4) pain during bowel movements and/or urination.
5) Painful pelvic examination by a doctor
6) lower abdominal pain
The area and intensity of the pain can vary among women, and each individual may experience different intensity of pain from month to month. Some women may experience worsening of symptoms progressively, while others can have resolution of pain without treatment. There is no relationship between severity of pain and how widespread the endometriosis is (the "stage" of endometriosis). The pain location differs from normal menstrual pain, which is more cramp-like and concentrated in the mid-abdomen.
If you have at least a few of the symptoms above, please consult a gynaecologist. Endometriosis can be diagnosed through an Ultrasound scan.
I have most of the symptoms above except infertility and blood in the urine. What brought up my curiosity were the location of the pain and the time when the pain occurs. I had pain on my right ovary which was to the lower right abdomen, and it differs from the mid-abdomen cramp during menstrual period. And, this pain came before my period arrived.
So, that was how my journey to help myself began...
Endovan and Fibrovan Supplement
Endovan and Fibrovan have claimed many success stories in resolving ovarian cyst and fibroid. I have taken high dosage of Endovan for a year, and my ovarian cyst did shrink about 30% but not entirely. There are two reasons for the failure. Firstly, I did not change my diet, while Endovan is fighting to balance out the estrogen hormone in my body; my incorrect eating habit is counter reacting towards it. In another words, while Endovan fought to reduce the estrogen in my body, my diet increased the estrogen level. So in the end, my body lost out. Secondly, I have a severe case of endometriosis which cannot be easily cured with supplement taking. Though Endovan helped to a certain extent, it did not relieve me from the chronic pain I suffered monthly.
Lose Weight to Cut Down on Fat Cells
As I learnt that the fat cells produce estrogen and the more fat cells you have, the more estrogen you body produces, I went through a weight loss program to cut down the unhealthy fat in my body. I lost 18kg of weight (about 10kg of fat) in a year and reached my ideal weight for my height. However, the cyst shrunk a few centimetres but stopped there. For pain relief, I still need to depend on Arcoxia to live a normal day.
What caused the Endometriosis pain?
The innermost lining of the uterus, called endometrium normally ends up on a tampon or pad during menstrual period and is discarded. However, if this endometrial tissue is squeezed backwards through the tubes to spill onto the ovaries and into the abdomen and remains there, and hormonally reactive to the ensuing cycles, the woman then has this condition called endometriosis. (See here for other theoretical causes of endometriosis.) Endometriosis is named after the endometrium - that is, normal tissue, endometrium in abnormal locations. This very reactive tissue causes an inflammatory state that causes pain, internal scarring (adhesions), and the production of substances that mysteriously interfere with fertilization.
How does the inflammation cause pain? Endometriosis has been postulated as an auto-immune disease. One of the body's best protective mechanisms seems to be the worst enemy for endometriosis. When there is inflammation in the abdomen, the body will tend to wall off these areas with fatty tissue called omentum. Omentum will surround and cover the offending inflammation away from the other abdominal organs. Also, inflammation will cause other structures to stick to the areas inflamed. A loop of bowel may become attached to areas of endometriosis during the normal motions of peristalsis (an automatic process in the body that moves food through the digestive system). These phenomena cause attachments of bowel to pelvic organs and blockage of the openings of the fallopian tubes.
And this causes pain.
Besides inflammation, there are mechanical constraints of normally freely moving organs before endometriosis negotiating the passage of feces through suspended loops of bowel after endometriosis. Even when endometriosis "burns out," as it sometimes does, adhesions still remain.
Therefore endometriosis causes infertility by mechanical and chemical interference and pain by direct inflammation and mechanical constraints. The pain could go from excruciating pain in some cases, with huge masses of endometriosis (endometrioma or plural endometriomata) to being totally silent in other cases. Typically, the pain is distributed throughout the abdomen where the endometriosis and resulting adhesions formed.
Endometriosis Diet for Menstrual Pain Relief
Honestly speaking, after so many struggles, trials and errors, I wasn’t sure at all whether a diet change will make any difference. However, I didn’t want to go through any more surgery in the hospital, and taking medication and supplements did not help. So, diet change is my last resort, which is also probably the most difficult thing for me to do, as I really prefer to have carefree life where I have no restriction to my favourite food.
So, I did my weeks of research, and consulted my friend who is a medical doctor. I summarized my findings in the tables below, and I followed it. It took me a month to find an Endo Diet that suits my tongue. And for weeks, my body went through fatigue and weakness as it went through massive adjustment through detoxification, hormone balancing, and candida balancing. I was referring to the two books below for my diet change and I strongly recommend endometriosis sufferer to read them:
1) The Infertility Cure: The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies
2) The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity
I have visited so many websites on endometriosis diet, and they are so many similarities among them. Some of these websites are :
Endometriosis - Diet and Nutrition (http://www.endo-resolved.com/diet.html)
Chinese Herbal Therapy for Endometriosis (http://www.itmonline.org/journal/arts/endometriosis.htm)
Natural healing Ways (http://www.naturalhealingways.com/conditions/endometriosis.html)
I still have severe menstrual pain in my first two months, though it was slightly better than before. I was also able to reduce the number of painkiller tablet (Arcoxia) from 3 tablets to 1. I have read that it can take up to 3 years for a person to reach hormonal and candida balance. So, I persevered and believed that it may work for me. On the third month, miracle happened, sooner than I expected, to my most pleasant surprise. I had no pain ! No cramp! On any part of my body. Really, no pain at all. Not even the normal mid-abdominal pain suffered by people who do not have endometriosis.
It really worked. And it lasts. Until today, I have no pain during my menstrual period. I have never felt this good during my menstrual period in my life!
In Part 2, I will share with you the details of Endometriosis Diet. So please read on ....
- Endometriosis Diet for Menstrual Pain Relief - My Success Story (Part 2)
Here is my secret. The Endometriosis Diet (Endo Diet) that gave me pain relief.
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