Endometriosis is a condition whereby tissue from the lining of the womb finds its way out of the womb and grows onto other organs such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Endometrial tissue which is growing outside of the womb responds to normal hormonal fluctuations and goes through the same process each month as that of the tissue growing inside the womb – thickening in preparation for a pregnancy each month – if pregnancy does not occur the lining of the womb breaks down and leaves the body. Endometrial tissue growing elsewhere cannot leave the body as blood so instead causes pain, inflammation and scarring.
Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK and can affect all women of childbearing age, regardless of race or ethnicity. The causes of endometriosis are not known and currently there is no cure, however, the symptoms can be managed with painkillers or hormone treatments. It is possible that a combination of the following factors could be causing endometriosis to develop in some women:
- Environmental causes
- Immune issues
- Retrograde menstruation
- Lymphatic system
If you suspect that you may have endometriosis you should seek help from your GP. A diagnosis is usually confirmed by laparoscopy but can also be made by the description of symptoms such as irregular bleeding or heavy periods, painful bowel movements, pelvic pain, fatigue, bloating of the lower abdomen.
How nutrition can help endometriosis
A change of diet has been found to have positive benefits, this includes cutting out or reducing the amount of red meat, wheat and dairy products.
Foods that may help:
- Following a low GI diet may help to reduce pain.
- Consume plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Drink plenty of fresh water each day.
- Omega 3 – oily fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel, along with nuts and seeds may help to reduce inflammation.
- A mainly plant-based diet rather than red or processed meat based.
- Foods that contain phytoestrogens, such as nuts and seeds, blackberries, beans, pulses, beans, whole grains (not wheat), raspberries and carrots may help balance hormones as phytoestrogens can block oestrogen receptors.
- Green tea may help reduce the growth of the endometrial tissue.
- Recent research has indicated that lycopene may be useful in reducing the abnormal activity of cells and as a result, may reduce the adhesion effects of endometriosis. The best sources of lycopene are tomatoes and tomato products so make sure your diet is packed full of tomatoes, either raw or cooked.
- Try to choose and eat organic produce whenever possible.
Foods to avoid:
- All red and processed meats.
- Reduce your sugar intake as much as you can.
- Hydrogenated fats.
- Caffeine – increases oestrogen levels.
- Additives and processed foods – can affect your liver which is involved in hormone processing.
- Saturated fats – such as butter, some cheeses and meats with high-fat content, which can lead to more inflammation.
- Reduce salt intake.
Although endometriosis can make you feel tired, exercise has been shown to help control the symptoms because it releases pain relieving, feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which lifts your mood and increases energy levels. Exercise also promotes good circulation. Try exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga or dancing and aim to exercise for at least 30 mins four times a week.
As well as following a healthy balanced diet for the everyday help of endometriosis, these supplements may be helpful:
- Vitamin B6
- Krill oil
For further information about endometriosis, and the diet, nutrition, exercise and complimentary therapies that may help, we recommend visiting www.endometriosis-uk.org
If you have any questions about endometriosis and why it might be stopping you from conceiving, please call us on 01992 78 50 60 or visit our website: hertsandessexfertility.com