Endometriosis is a medical condition that occurs when tissue like the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. This tissue can grow on other organs in the pelvic area, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvis.
In rare cases, it can also grow outside of the pelvic area in places such as the lungs, bladder, bowel, and even in surgical scars.
The symptoms associated with it are many. To note, this can include severe and debilitating pelvic pain, heavy and irregular periods, fatigue, and bowel problems.
Endometriosis UK estimates that:
What causes endometriosis?
It is not yet clear what the direct cause of endometriosis is, and it will vary from person to person, however the following are all potential influences, resulting in the condition:
And more generically speaking…
Ever heard of the estrobolome? This is a collection of bacteria in the gut that plays a critical role in metabolising oestrogen. Yes, certain bacteria in our gut are involved in breaking down oestrogen into metabolites that can then be excreted from the body.
What if the gut is imbalanced?
Studies have in fact shown that women with endometriosis can present with a higher level of bacteria that can interfere with oestrogen metabolism, such as beta-glucuronidase-producing bacteria. Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme that plays an important role in the metabolism of oestrogen.
As we know, oestrogen is metabolised during liver detoxification; it is typically converted into a form called oestrogen glucuronide, which is then excreted in the urine or stools. Beta-glucuronidase can however reactivate oestrogen glucuronide and convert it back into its active form, therefore increasing the amount of active oestrogen in the body.
This is not ideal, hence why working on ensuring a healthy microbiome is just as important as liver detoxification and excretion.
Are you eating gut loving foods?
If not, you might want to consider adding probiotics (fermented foods) like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha AND prebiotics (think of them as the compost feeding your good bacteria) like leaks, garlic, and onions.
Do you have enough antioxidants in your diet?
Think about colourful fruit and vegetables (aim for a 30:70 split). They are natural multi-vitamins and rich in compounds which help fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
When it comes to endometriosis chronic stress can be an aggravating factor. It impacts:
And when it comes to environmental toxins, studies have now shown that these may indeed increase the risk of endometriosis. Toxins like dioxins and PCBs can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance, leading to increased levels of oestrogen and inflammation. Others like phthalates, BPA, and flame retardants can interfere with the body’s natural hormone production and function, leading to hormonal imbalances.
A holistical intervention…
It’s not just the food we eat then, is it?
Let’s aim to reduce stress by introducing mindful practices into our days and minimising toxin exposure by buying local, organic and natural products.
There can be many contributing factors resulting in endometriosis, so ensuring our diet and lifestyle cater for a reduction of any possible triggers is really important.
What are the dos and don’ts?
Those are some of the recommendations Angela uses for her clients, alongside tailored and more personalised measures, supplementations and testing. Testing is key, as it helps identify root causes and provide a tailored approach for the individual.
Understanding how our body is set to work, alongside what it is experiencing is so important to guide us to define the right protocols.