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Endometriosis and Infertility

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by | 0 views
by Lorne Brown BSc, Dr. TCM, FABORM


Endometriosis Definition: Patches of endometrial tissue that are normally found only in the uterine lining (endometrium) growing outside the uterus, usually in the abdominal cavity (ovaries, uterine ligaments, intestines, ureters, bladder, vagina, surgical scars) , although it may appear in other parts of the body (chest lining, brain). It quite commonly is attached to the outside of internal organs and most often adheres to the ovaries and uterine ligaments. This tissue still keeps the same traits it would have if it still were present inside the uterus; grows and builds mid cycle,and bleeds during menstruation. This causes pain of varying degrees in different women.

When this continues for some time, the misplaced tissue may cause scarring that leads to an adhesion (sticking together) of internal surfaces (organs, ligaments) and may eventually inhibit proper functioning of certain aspects of the body.

Causes: Endometriosis seems to run in families (mostly Caucasian). Also, giving birth for the first time after the age of 30 seems to be a risk factor. The best theory to date of why this condition comes fourth is said to be during menstruation, some of the endometrial tissue that is usually shed through the vagina, flows backward out the uterine (Fallopian) tubes.

Signs & Symptoms: Pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic region, irregular menses, spotting between periods or before periods, infertility (difficulty conceiving), pain during sexual intercourse, abdominal swelling, pain during bowel movements, bleeding from the rectum during menstruation, lower abdominal pain during menstruation, and there are sometimes no symptoms at all.

Diagnosis: When a woman shows typical signs described above, or has unexplained infertility one may suspect Endometriosis. There may also be palpable masses in the lower abdomen. To see if there is endometrial tissue outside of the uterus, a doctor will use a small fiber optic viewing tube called a laparoscope that enters the abdominal cavity through a small incision made just below the navel. Sometimes it may not be conclusive by only viewing so a biopsy (small sample) will be taken. Ultrasounds, MRI's, barium enemas, CT scans, and x-rays may also be used to determine the extent of the disease. Blood tests that show antibodies for endometrial tissue are also a signal that the body may be attacking regular body tissues that are out of place.

Infertility, Traditional Chinese Medicine, & Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a modern disease. Chinese medicine treats the western disease diagnosis of 'endometriosis' by reframing the signs and symptoms displayed by the client into traditional Chinese medical disease categories. The most common symptom associated with endometriosis is pain surrounding menses. The traditional Chinese medical disease category for pain during menstruation would be 'Painful Periods'. Another common symptom of endometriosis is the inability to conceive. This becomes reframed into the traditional Chinese medical disease category of 'Infertility'. Thirdly, there can be erratic bleeding cycles, i.e. bleeding outside of the cycles, early spotting, spotting mid cycle, or spotting after the end of the cycle for several days. The traditional Chinese Medical disease category in these instances would be 'Erratic Menses'. There may also be profuse bleeding during the period (the bleeding is very heavy), this would fall under the category of 'Profuse Menstruation'. Therefore, the western medical diagnosis of 'endometriosis' can be reframed into at least 1-5 different traditional Chinese medical disease categories depending on the signs and symptoms displayed by the woman, mainly painful periods, infertility, and profuse menstruation. This is representative of how traditional Chinese medicine treats the individual person, not the disease.

The question, 'How much relief will someone with severe endometriosis benefit from treatment with Chinese medicine?' is really dependant on the degree of compliance and commitment the client displays toward the requirements necessary for success. One must be willing to invest in themselves, make room for some lifestyle changes, modify their diet (sometimes drastically), undergo regular acupuncture treatment, religiously take the prescribed herbal formulas, and practice the intention required by the body mind and spirit to overcome a severe health condition. With time and diligence, 70-80% of women being treated with traditional Chinese medicine can expect to see significant reductions in their symptoms. 20% of women will get minimal to no results (as in every type of disease, there is always a small group of people who will not respond to the treatments, there is no explanation for this). Some women see results within just a few treatments, although, it should be noted that it is not unrealistic to expect six months to one-and-a-half years of treatment with traditional Chinese medicine to see results with lasting effect. If you are looking for a quick fix and are not willing to dedicate to the necessary commitments stated above for at least 6 months, it would be advisable to opt for laser surgery and have the major scaring removed. Laser surgery has more of a 'bandage' effect, meaning, the displaced endometrial tissue usually grows back in time, and it will be necessary to revisit this style of treatment 1-2 times per year. If surgery is your choice, consider traditional Chinese medicine to help remain symptom free for longer periods of time between hospital visits.

During treatment with traditional Chinese medicine, the woman's menstrual cycle can change, sometimes drastically. Some months it may look like things are heading in the right direction, and some months it may seem as though things are going backwards. The more severe the condition, the longer the body must take to heal. Many women that find no relief with traditional Chinese medicine have set unrealistic expectations, and quit before changes can occur. Treatment with traditional Chinese medicine is, in most cases, a more permanent fix, but, it must be remembered that it takes time for traditional Chinese medicine to make the adjustments and changes that must occur within the reproductive body tissue.

Decide today that you will be free of the suffering associated with endometriosis.

Check out 'Mayway' and 'New Herbs' online. They carry herbs and herbal plasters made of Okra that treat endometriosis as well as many other gynecological conditions.

Diet Recomendations for Endometriosis

Women with endometriosis should be particularly vigilant about increasing their consumption of kelp and wheat germ.

Endometriosis has been linked to thyroid dysfunction and kelp is particularly good for thyroid problems. The vitamin E in wheat germ improves the healing of scar tissue caused by internal endometrial bleeding. Women who suspect endometriosis should cut down on their yeast consumption, as yeast overgrowth has been recently implicated in endometriosis. Also, since yeast thrives on sugar, strictly avoid sugar, as well as any artificial sweeteners and dairy, though yogurt can be helpful for this problem.

In general, women with endometriosis should stick to a high-fiber, vegetarian based diet. Particularly, the elimination of fats from animal sources such as meat and dairy products is beneficial. Women with endometriosis should also particularly avoid caffeine and salt and should indulge in antioxidants such as sweet potatoes, yams, apricots, cantaloupes, carrots, spinach and broccoli, whole grains and beans for necessary B vitamins, and citrus fruits for bioflavonoids and natural vitamin C.

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