Endometriosis is a condition that causes tissues of the endometrium, uterine lining, that normally grow inside the uterus to grow in other locations. Endometriosis may attach to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder, ligaments or other areas in the abdominal cavity. It is a notoriously painful condition, which many women have described as being more intense than child birth. Internal scar tissue may eventually develop, which is a known cause of infertility.
Causes: Research shows that there are many different factors in the development of this condition, which makes it complex, with possibly many different origins:
“Retrograde menstruation”– where during a period bits of the womb lining travel back up through the fallopian tubes into the pelvis, causing the displacement of endometrial cells.These cells then attach to other areas of the abdominal cavityand then bleed each month, causing inflammation and the formation of painful cysts.This is the most widely accepted theory.
A family link: Some women could be susceptible because the condition seems to run in their family. Consultant gynecologist Stephen Kennedy from Oxford University, who worked on Oxford Endometriosis Gene Study says, “If you have a sister or a mother with endometriosis, you are ten times more likely to get it”.
Oxidative stress: Cell damage from free radicals has been suggested as the leading contributing factor for development of endometriosis. This may be due to dietary factors, exposure to chemical toxins, aging, immunological and inflammatory response.
Depressed immune function: over time, arising from the free radical damage the the immune system’s function may be depressed and compromised. This may be why women with endometriosis are more susceptible to recurrent infections, especially yeast infections.
Poor inflammatory response:which may allow endometriotic tissues to implant elsewhere in the body more easily. This may also be why women with endometriosis have more pain and inflammation.
Heavy period flow: This factor increases your likelihood of developing endometriosis which is now dubbed – “the modern woman’s disease”. Women today have far more periods than their great grandmothers, who were either pregnant or breast feeding for a much higher proportion of the time.
So How Does Endometriosis Affect Fertility?
Proper hormonal balance is essential for healthy fertility-getting pregnant, carrying to term and having a healthy baby.Fertility problems are often directly linked to to hormonal imbalance. When the body has too much estrogen, the balance between estrogen and progesterone levels becomes tipped (unbalanced). And low progesterone levels are often a result of the imbalance.Endometriosis which has been linked with hormonal imbalance, is as estrogen dominant condition.Increases in estrogen make endometriosis more severe and in turnconception very difficult.
Endometriosis also creates a situation of “congestion” where there are excess tissues growing in the uterus (as well as other areas of the body) which may make it harder for an embryo to attach properly for implantation.
Every month the excess tissues bleed which cause inflammation to occur and scar tissue to begin adhering to the uterus, fallopian tubes, the ovaries, and other organs. Over time, this may lead to chronic pelvic “congestion”. If endometrial cells attach to the ovaries or fallopian tubes this may alter normal ovulatory function or cause the fallopian tubes to become blocked.
Another sad point is that the fact that the woman’s body may form antibodies against the misplaced endometrial tissue. The same antibodies may attack the uterine lining and cause miscarriages (up to three times the normal rate).
What are the symptoms
Endometriosis can produce a host of different symptoms, including incapacitating pain in the uterus, lower back, and organs in the pelvic cavity prior to and during the menses; intermittent pain throughout the menstrual cycle; deep pain during intercourse; painful bowel movements or urination; abnormal heavy menstrual bleeding or long-term menstrual bleeding, including the passage of large clots and shred of tissue during the menses; nausea, vomiting, and constipation during the menses and infertility. The curious thing about the condition is that the level of pain does not necessarily reflect the amount of endometriosis.
Some women get hysterectomies to eliminate endometriosis, but even in these cases, it sometimes returns in different places. Natural treatments are bringing hope for sufferers of this troublesome condition. A smart plan to reduce endometriosis would then be to reduce inflammation, promote circulation, reduce pain, and promote hormonal balance, support proper immune response, work to reduce excess tissue growth with astringent and toning herbs:
Goldensealroot(Hydrastiscanadensis)– this herb is extremely antibiotic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. It works to heal any infection in the reproductive system, while also reducing pain and inflammation from foreign tissue growth. Reduction in inflammation may help to prevent scar tissue and adhesion.
Horsetail (Equisetiumavense, misinmisingoro in Yoruba) – has excellent astringent action for toning, healing of excess foreign tissue growth and bleeding. This herb promotes proper tissue growth and function. 1 tsp infused in boiled water for 15 minutes is to be taken 2-3 X daily.
Vitex(uchakoro in Igbo) – this will help balance the hormones and reduce the effects of estrogen dominance. For better results mix the herb with equal portions of Spondiasmombin( ijikara-Igbo; Iyeye-Yoruba) and dandelion (ewe yarin-Yoruba).
Take 1 Tbs infused in boiled water for 15-30 minutes, 2-3 X daily.
Yarrow (itekwonwa) – relieves inflammation and congestion of the uterus, which aids in pain reduction, as well as proper circulation to the reproductive organs. A low dose in the form of tea or liquid extract taken every day leading up to menstruation may be best. Dosage may be increased during menstruation, if needed.
Yarrow has also been used to stop internal bleeding caused by endometriosis. This plant has successfully been used to stop hemorrhage during miscarriage, or after child birth. 1 tsp of dried plant parts is infused for 15 minutes. Take up to 3 cups daily.
Beepropolis – a study published in infertility and sterility showed that 60 % of women with endometriosis-related infertility who took 500 mg of bee propolis twice a day for 9 months became pregnant as opposed to 20% in the placebo group.Bee propolis has been shown to be a high anti-inflammatory and thus may reduceendometriosis pain,scar tissue and adhesion formation triggered by inflammation response.
Aloevera – the gel is mixed with ginger and pineapple juice and ¼ tumbler taken preferably few days before a menstrual flow.