Endometriosis: The Orchid Blueprint for Healing
Endometriosis is a condition that affects millions of women worldwide. Symptoms such as severe pain with menstruation, bowel movements, urination (often during menstrual periods), or intercourse are often written off as “normal”. These, however, can be signs of this underlying imbalance that can cause significant distress throughout the month and increase the risk of infertility.
The condition is characterized by endometrial tissue (tissue lining the uterus) that has grown or migrated outside the uterus and attached itself to other organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowels, rectum, or bladder. This tissue can form adhesions or other masses that can restrict the function of those organs or cause pain, digestive issues, and abnormal bleeding (rectal bleeding with periods, bleeding between periods, or heavy periods). A definitive diagnosis can often be challenging and requires a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy during which a fiber-optic instrument is inserted through the abdominal wall to look for (and remove if mild to moderate) scar tissue and endometrial masses.
Between 20 and 40% of women with infertility have endometriosis. As mentioned above, endometriosis can attach to the fallopian tubes, impairing their function and preventing the eggs fertilization and transport after ovulation. In addition, it is a chronic inflammatory condition that targets the reproductive system and can result in tubal damage, decreased egg quality, and reduced implantation rates.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, endometriosis does not have one individual diagnosis. We look at each patient to assess the quality of the their blood, the state of their digestion, and resulting inflammation that may be present from lifestyle/dietary habits. From there, we are able to develop a plan to not only improve the symptoms of the condition, but also work to limit the progression and minimize the long-term affects of endometriosis while improving fertility potential when pregnancy is desired.
Common components of our treatment plan might include:
Acupuncture: Acupuncture can alleviate pain and reduce inflammatory markers in the body resulting in improved function and fertility (in many cases) by improving blood flow, regulating hormones, and stimulating endorphins (our feel-good hormones).
Chinese herbs/Supplements: Herbs and supplements can assist in supporting hormonal imbalances commonly seen with endometriosis while reducing pain and preventing further growth (or regrowth) of unhealthy tissue.
Mayan Abdominal Therapy: Mayan Abdominal Therapy can help loosen adhesions or scar tissue in the pelvis and help to align the uterus and improve blood flow.
Castor Oil Packs: Castor oil packs help to detoxify the body while improving circulation and reducing masses.
Diet: Eating a whole-food, plant-based diet is important to reduce inflammation and improve overall nutrient absorption. We also look at food triggers that may be contributing to underlying inflammation or estrogen-dominance in the body and may suggest taking out gluten, dairy, alcohol, and/or caffeine. Foods such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, etc) are often a helpful addition as they can help the body process and reduce estrogen levels.
Exercise: Regular exercise is so important for blood circulation. We encourage patients to refrain from too strenuous of exercise during their periods or from doing any inversions while bleeding.
Stress Reduction: Studies have shown that high levels of stress can have a detrimental effect on the symptoms of endometriosis and advance its progression. Taking time to relax, meditate, breathe, or walk in nature can be helpful tools to manage stress. We also encourage patients to practice saying no to things that don’t serve them and looking at ways to bring more joy and connection into life.
Have you been diagnosed with endometriosis? No diagnosis, but suffer from pelvic pain or pain related to your menstrual cycle? Know someone who fits either of these two? Contact us! We would love to help, whether the goal is trying to get pregnant or just feeling better!
In good health,