Endometriosis is a common condition characterized by intense pain with menstruation, pain with intercourse, and infertility.
Some 10-15% of women of reproductive age have endometriosis. Fragments of the lining of the uterus called the endometrium somehow become embedded in other tissue throughout the body. The misplaced endometrial tissue acts like the uterine lining by thickening, bleeding and breaking down as in a normal menstrual cycle. There is no place for the blood and broken down tissue to leave the body; instead it is reabsorbed by the surrounding tissues. Endometrial tissue implants become larger and new implants may arise after successive menstrual cycles. Scar tissue formation is common and adhesion of tissues between one organ to another can also occur. This is how it may contribute to infertility.
Symptoms of this condition are frequently misleading, and the severity of the symptoms is not a good indicator of the extent of the endometriosis. Women who have advanced endometriosis may have little or no discomfort, and other women with minimal disease may endure severe pelvic and menstrual pain and even sexual dysfunction. The symptoms a woman experiences depend more on the site of the endometrial cells rather than the extent or the severity of the disease.
The main risk factor is heredity with first-degree relatives (i.e. mother or sisters). Estrogen excess, a high fat diet, and use of intrauterine devices (IUD’s) in the past or present have also been found to be risk factors.
Current research focuses on the link between the environment and our female endocrine systems. There is a link between toxic chemical exposures, such as dioxins which are found in herbicides and pesticides, to the frequency of endometriosis. Exposure to exogenous estrogen has also increased throughout the decade; they are found in plastics, detergents, household cleaners, and even food sources – especially beef and chicken which are “plumped” up with estrogen.
This places a tremendous burden on the liver which is the main organ responsible for detoxifying and clearing toxins out of the body. The live is also responsible for breaking down estrogen. Estrogen that does not get broken down and cleared out of the body get reabsorbed and recycled with a negative impact.
At ALETRIS, we use protocols focus on optimizing liver function, as well as the other organ systems of elimination (kidney, bowel, skin). Nutritional counseling, nutritional supplementation, and botanical tinctures are the main tools naturopathic physicians use to treat endometriosis. The two primary short-terms goals in treating endometriosis are pain relief and the restoration of fertility. The long-term goal is to prevent progression or recurrence of the disease process.