From 3rd-11th March, people worldwide will be observing Endometriosis Awareness Week. In some countries events take place throughout the whole of March. It occurs when the endometrial tissue, found in the uterus, migrates to other parts of the body and swells and bleeds during a woman’s monthly cycle, causing inflammation, scarring and adhesions. Common symptoms include chronic pelvic pain; painful, heavy and irregular periods; pain during intercourse; lower back pain; infertility; painful bowel movements and urination; and fatigue.
The current Western approach to endometriosis, or “endo” as it is sometimes called, is surgery to remove the lesions, drugs to control symptoms, or hysterectomy. Such radical intervention can leave women disempowered and devastated at the impact the condition has had on their lives. Carolyn Levett, author of Reclaim Your Life - Your Guide to Aid Healing of Endometriosis, believes that while conventional medicine can temporarily alleviate symptoms, taking an holistic approach can actually heal endometriosis forever.
• Author Louise Hay, one of the pioneers of meta-physical medicine, believes endometriosis is linked to a sense of insecurity, disappointment and frustration. Her affirmations to heal endometriosis include: “I am both powerful and desirable. It is wonderful to be a woman. I love myself, and I am fulfilled.”
• Discontinue the use of tampons which are bleached with chlorine and instead opt for home-made sanitary towels or organic cotton ones.
• Avoid the use of chemical-based products, both in the home and on your body and choose natural, organic products instead.
• Wear loose, comfortable clothes that allow for a flow of energy around the pelvic area.
• Endometriosis and fibroids respond very well to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which believes that they are caused by stagnated and inhibited uterine blood affecting the normal process of menstruation. Find a good practitioner in your area who can offer acupuncture and/or herbal help for your whole range of symptoms, including emotional and mental.
• Flax seeds contain high amounts of lignans, a phytoestrogen which helps to counter excess growth of endometrial tissue. Grind flax seed and sprinkle it on your breakfast cereal or make flax seed tea.
• Take warm baths with essential oils such as frankincense, myrrh, clary sage, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, juniper and thyme. Author and aromatherapist Valerie Ann Worwood offers support in her book The Endometriosis Natural Treatment Program: A Complete Self-help Plan for Improving Your Health and Well-being, co-written with Julia Stonehouse.
• Look after your liver. Your liver helps remove excess oestrogen from the body and promotes progesterone production, both of which processes help you heal.
• Apply warm castor oil packs on your abdomen to invigorate the blood, assist the lymphatic symptom and balance hormone levels during pre-menstrual and menstrual periods. Drizzle warm castor oil onto a towel and wrap around your abdomen, covering with plastic wrap, and apply a hot water bottle. Lie down and rest.
• Watch your diet. Avoid all foods which have been treated hormonally and opt for organic products where possible. Eat dark leafy vegetables.
• Essential fats are crucial for their anti-inflammatory properties. In a 2010 study, omega 3’s were shown to be very beneficial for endometriosis. Aim for cold-pressed oils rich in linoleic and alpha-linoleic fatty acids. Fish oil and flaxseed oil are good sources of these Omega 3 fatty acids. Fish oil prevents abnormal blood clotting. If your menstrual blood contains clotty tissue, supplement with fish oil, linseed oil and evening primrose oil (which also contain gamma linolenic acid or Omega 6).
• Try a nurturing and restorative form of exercise such as yoga which helps to promote blood and energy flow to the pelvis. Speak to your yoga teacher about your condition so that they can help you find postures that suit your needs. Yoga can open up the hips and build up strength, as well as support stress reduction by calming the nervous system. Deep abdominal breathing can be very healing.
• Pilates exercises can help endometriosis sufferers gain strength in the areas where pain resides. Performed correctly with attention to alignment, Pilates exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, supporting virtually any type of movement. Discuss your needs with a qualified Pilates teacher.
• Try hula-hooping to release stagnant energy in the hip and pelvic area and release tension – learning how to hula-hoop provides laughter therapy too!
• For the same reason, dancing can be really helpful especially if you move your hips and pelvis. This can be done in the privacy of your own home or you might like to try a belly-dancing class. The film about menstruation The Moon Inside You followed a group of women who suffered from debilitating and painful periods and the relief they experienced through belly-dancing together.
• Seek support, whether it be from a group of women experiencing similar symptoms, or through an emotional support technique such as CBT or NLP. Keep your support positive and health-focused, rather than getting stuck in negativity around your symptoms.
• Address any negative emotions around your menstruation and being a woman. It might help to join a woman’s group whose focus is on celebrating womanhood and menstruation. Or perhaps it will be a quieter celebration of your unique body by treating yourself to some fabulous red underwear or a red dress.
Books worth reading:
The Endometriosis Natural Treatment Program: A Complete Self-help Plan for Improving Your Health and Well-being by Julia Stonehouse and Valerie Anne Worwood
Reclaim Your Life - Your Guide to Aid Healing of Endometriosis by Carolyn Levett
Take Control of Your Endometriosis: Help Relieve Symptoms with Simple Diet and Lifestyle Changes by Henrietta Norton
Recipes for the Endometriosis Diet by Carolyn Levett
Article by Lucy Corkhill