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Balancing your hormones might not be the only answer in endometriosis.

Women's health is a passion of mine. I find great purpose in providing resources and helping women discover more about themselves and their hormones. Today I'd like to dive into endometriosis, a condition that affects many women.

I hope that this blog post provides a more casual approach to this complex topic, and helps to help provide a little bit more clarity about some of the root causes of endometriosis. As well, we will have a look at  the multifactorial way of treating endometriosis and how I help patients in my practice. I also want to acknowledge that I speak about women here broadly but I also want to acknowledge that there may be people who don't identify with womanhood to which this is still relevant.

Let's start with the basics.

Endometriosis is a condition that plagues many women. Approximately 1 in 10. Women have endometriosis. Unfortunately it can take up to 10 years for many women to get diagnosed with this condition.

In terms of the disease process, endometriosis is the growth of uterine-like tissue that is outside of the uterus. This poses a problem as this tissue is still hormonally active. This means that it can proliferate and bleed, but it is in other areas rather than the uterus. So we are essentially growing and bleeding within the pelvic cavity on the ovaries and sometimes it's been found even in the lungs and or brain.

The main Hallmark symptom of endometriosis is severe pain. The diagnosis for endometriosis is done through laparoscopic surgery. I imagine that due to the fact that surgery is the only way to diagnose this condition May contribute to why so many women, Wait so long for diagnosis.

Originally, not much thought was put into endometriosis and it was found through trial and error that the birth control pill was helpful in some women for managing some of the symptoms.

I believe that's where the misnomer came that endometriosis was solely a hormonal issue. In my practice and in my experience, hormonal issues may also arise alongside endometriosis; however, There seems to be some additional causes for endometriosis.

For example, There are theories that endometriosis is more of a genetic condition. There are theories in which there was a bacterial exposure. There are theories which show endometriosis being an inflammatory condition, as well as an immunological condition. There are theories about retrograde menstruation, where menstrual blood does not exit the body But rather flows upwards, and certain people 's immune systems aren't able to adequately deal with that.

With The knowledge of many different etiologies,  comes The difficulty in treating endometriosis.  Below I'll give you a synopsis of how I treat it in my practice.

From my worldview, endometriosis is an autoimmune like condition. This is a little bit of a controversial statement as conventional medicine does not necessarily agree. However, More and more research suggests that different immune markers are higher in endometriosis, and that this is not a condition of diet and lifestyle only. This furthers the theory that this is a genetic predisposition, some women, even with a more pro-inflammatory lifestyle. For example, smoking or vaping may never develop endometriosis.

I also see endometriosis as an inflammatory condition not only in the uterus but throughout the body. I often choose therapies which will help lower inflammation systemically.

With that in mind, what do we do and how do we treat this?

Naturopathic medicine is a beautiful framework for treating endometriosis and women's hormonal conditions.

First, I like to do blood work to see what's going on in the body . It's important to rule out different conditions that may not necessarily present with the exact same symptoms, but may be impactful nonetheless . I like to test for different vitamins and minerals as well as do some hormonal testing to be sure that we see the whole picture . I do want to rule out some kind of hormonal disorder or deficiency. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is also extremely common in women. There are other hormonal disorders which can also be at play. Once we rule into the best of our ability endometriosis I treat it the following way.

I treat endometriosis very much how I treat other in autoimmune conditions. And just to say that endometriosis is not a diet and lifestyle disease, does not mean that there cannot be diet in lifestyle changes. That can be quite impactful. In fact, I've seen that women do respond very well to specific diet and lifestyle therapies to help manage endometriosis and the symptoms. Diet and lifestyle is also how I keep endometriosis in remission or decrease the inflammatory burden of endometriosis.

One of my favorite ways to decrease inflammation is my anti-inflammatory ginger turmeric tea recipe. This is Something easy that you can make at home which can help with the pain and is safe to use with prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. Some other ways to lower inflammation is by eating lots of veggies and exercising. The list goes on!

I also devote time to deal with the immune system. Finding out ways to help lower the autoimmune like response, as well as support a healthy immune response is key in endometriosis treatment.

Finally, we do make a large amount of immune cells in our gut and so being able to help with gut function. Good bowel movements is one of the cornerstone therapies for endometriosis management.

I hope that this summary was helpful and gives a little bit more empowerment to anyone who suspects they may have endometriosis.

I'd like to  re-emphasize A few things . The first is that endometriosis seems to be genetic and that there was nothing that you did to bring this on to yourself . Women often carry a lot of blame and shame about our health and so being able to acknowledge that this is something that we can deal with, but this disease was not self-inflicted is important . The second is that  women do respond very well to naturopathic treatment and that there are many different options pharmaceutical or otherwise that can be helpful for managing some of those symptoms. A multidisciplinary approach is a great place to start for managing this condition.

If you suspect that you have endometriosis or another hormonal condition that you'd like more guidance on, I'm happy to help you along that Journey.

And for all those endo warriors out there, sending you peace, love, and strength.

Dr. Larissa Wheeler, ND


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