Endometriosis (Endo) has run in my family for generations. I was diagnosed at the young age of 16 years old; a rare occurrence for most women that experience the severe pain for years without being diagnosed. Here is my story on Endometriosis and what I am currently doing to heal holistically.
I have not shared much on my endo story, mostly because I thought I had it under control for three years until recently my health took a turn. I had been taking hormones to reduce the chronic pain I faced mostly as a teenager. The hormones reduced the pain in half. Instead of having extreme pain 14-20 days of the month, I would have pain 5-9 days of the month. I foolishly thought that I would be fine if I went off the hormones. I made a promise to myself one night hugging the toilet throwing up from the hormones (a common occurrence), that 2019 would be year of taking control of my health holistically + without the help of western medicine. The hormones had nasty side effects I was far from stoked about – and I had had enough. They made me gain weight, moody, nauseous… I also felt so disconnected from my body. I honestly thought that being older, it would be easier to heal with a healthy diet and supplements. Thus far, healing holistically has not been a walk in the park.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not against western medicine. Some people need western medicine – and this is totally okay. A holistic lifestyle is not going to work for everyone. Please consult your doctor before you make any changes to your health + medication plan. It is important to weight the negative side effects with the positive results and see what is best for you. Your health is ultimately the most important and should be taken seriously. I don’t know if this holistic lifestyle will be sustainable for my body, but I am trying at this moment to see if changes will help me minimize pain. I may go back on some hormones and medication in the future should I need to.
On January 1st, I stopped taking the hormones. The first month I was completely fine, and overjoyed things were looking up. I was both hopeful and optimistic that I would never have these endo pains again, and when late February rolled in and the pain I knew far too well returned, I was devastated. This was going to require a lot more work and changes in my lifestyle than I thought.
What is Endometriosis?
I have taken the definition of Endometriosis from online to share with you for your reference.
“Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs.
With endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal bands of fibrous tissue that can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other.
Endometriosis can cause pain — sometimes severe — especially during menstrual periods. Fertility problems also may develop. Fortunately, effective treatments are available.” (Mayo Clinic, 2019)
It is estimated that 1 in 10 women have endometriosis. The craziest part is that it often takes 6-10 years for doctors to properly diagnosis women with this painful disorder. I hope that this post brings awareness to the issue, and if you suffer as well, you will seek help + remedies to ease the pain. Women reproductive systems are extremely understudied and underfunded, probably because it is a “taboo” subject. Please note that this platform is a safe place for you to share your experiences with me and others around.
**Forewarning to my parents, my partners parents – or anyone that is a friend of them, maybe stop reading here to save your mind from some uncomfortable images. 🙂
There are certain activities that trigger pain. Exercise is one of them. I have had to eliminate any physical activity minus mild walking, yoga and pilates. Any intense workout that requires a lot of jarring movements inflames my pelvis area immediately. I get extreme sharp pains, I black out and often proceed to throw up. Not only are periods unbearable some days, but during the ovulation and luteal phases, I get extremely bad cramping or sharp pains as well – as if I had my period. In short, I feel like I have my period 14-20 days of the month. There are only 2-5 days of the month that I almost always know that I probably won’t be in pain (if I don’t exercise). 3-5 days after my period, are usually close to pain free.
For me, one of hardest parts of endometrioses is the low-libido and pain during sex. It can be incredibly frustrating part of your relationship with your partner; because your partner might not understand where your lack of desire comes from. I used to be able to push through the pain when I was a young adult, but now as I age, I find it harder to get in the mood knowing how painful the experience might be. If you also experience extreme pains during intercourse, you may have endometriosis. Speak to your doctor.
It can be mentally challenging when you feel like your body is failing you. You’re supposed to experience joy and pleasure during sex – and those are moments that often hurt the most. I always looked to exercise when I was younger as an outlet for anxiety and stress. Nowadays, it can be painful and stressful on my body. I cannot help but feel incredibly sad, like my body has betrayed me. My aunts and grandmothers before me were told that they would never have children due to the condition. Fortunately enough, almost all of those family members ended up having children after all – with the help of modern medicine. I am optimistic that I will be able to have kids of my own one day despite the diagnosis. This disorder does not define me or my future. I know that adoption is always an option. And this is not going to stop me from living my life.
I want to make the best of this situation in every way I can. For me, that means sharing this message and sharing what works for me to help others. Sometimes we must accept things as they are, and commit to creating a positive space for healing instead of focusing on what one’s body cannot do. I will continue to share my story and my remedies that work! I am not giving up in the slightest. I truly believe the power of holistic nutrition and a healthy mindset can heal me + you if you experience the same. After all, I do feel blessed that I have a healthy body for the most part. I have access to a Naturopath and great doctors. There is no point in ruminating in the negative – when I have so much to be grateful in this health journey.
I am still in the process of learning how to “heal” holistically; but I have found some quick remedies that work.
For quick relief:
- I take Ketorolac (a strong anti-inflammatory prescription for pain) if necessary. I try to avoid taking any if I can, because it does raise blood pressure and it is extremely hard on your organs.
- Hot water bottles are my best friend. I keep multiple stored in the car, my parents’ house, my boyfriend’s house… I am always prepared.
- I have not tried this yet, but I heard THC-Free CBD Oil and topical CBD oils are incredibly helpful. I will write a post about CBD once I give it a try.
- Diet: I am in the process of working with a Naturopath to decrease inflammation and pain naturally. We have been working to slowly introduce a gluten free diet (for reducing inflammation) + eating a “healthy” ketosis-like diet (to reduce sugars and carbs that disrupt hormones). As someone who HATES diets or restriction because of my eating disorder background, I am a little hesitant about this change. But I know that I can write my own rules and not define it as a “X-diet type” but a “medicinal lifestyle change”.
- Cycle Syncing: eating, exercising, taking supplements all specifically for the stage of my cycle. I am writing a cycle syncing blog post. Stay tuned to read.
- Using the app MY FLO: it is $3 but so amazing! You can track your period and symptoms. Plus, it has notes on how to cycle sync for your specific body type.
- Acupuncture: I have been doing acupuncture for a couple months. This is mostly for pain management, not to “heal” or “fix” the disorder. But I have found that it has been semi-helpful. I prefer to use a Chinese-Certified-Acupuncturist. They do 4-5 years of schooling versus North American’s that only do 1-2 years.
- Supplements + Vitamins: you can read my vitamin regime on this blog post.
- Hydration Station: drinking a ton of water and other natural electrolyte beverages such as celery juice. I try to cut down on caffeine and sugar to avoid inflammation
- Going 100% Natural for Cleaning + Beauty Products: Avoiding any harsh chemicals helps keep hormones at bay. I have switched over to natural cleaning products and subbed almost all my beauty and makeup products over to vegan and chemical free.
Being a female is not always easy. Our reproductive parts can raise havoc on our bodies. I am currently writing up a post on hormone control and cycle syncing for you to read. Maybe this post has resonated with you in some way. I think we can all relate to pain when it comes to our lady parts. Please note, you are not alone if you experience endo pain. If you have any suggestions regarding pain reduction, please leave a comment below. Wishing you health and happiness today and always. I have faith that science will bring us answers for healing soon. Stay strong ladies! You are the true warriors of the world.
Love Always, Emma