You Don't Have To Suffer

There is no way to prevent endometriosis. It's a fancy name for the chronic disease that afflicts an estimated 5.5 million women in North America, and numbers are on the rise.
Cyndi Mathews

Ramona Horton, a rehabilitation therapist at Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, Oregon , sees patients every month in her pelvic pain therapy office, but remembers a decade ago when she had no patients who suffered with endometriosis.

"We're seeing more women, and younger women with endo(metriosis)," says Mary Lou Bellwig, founder, president, and executive director of the Endometriosis Association in Milwaukee. "We publish an informational endometriosis brochure in 28 languages."

The Endometriosis Association is a non-profit group that seeks to educate teenage girls and women about endometriosis. The group attends international conferences, provides support groups, funds research projects, and also publishes books, pamphlets and a newsletter.

Bellwig and her organization recently completed production on a video for teen girls with endometriosis. It is by teens, for teens. In a recent newsletter, a young girl wrote in, "If someone had told me when I was in high school that 'pain with your period is not normal,' my life today might be very different."

There's no known cause for endometriosis. It's a chronic condition characterized by pelvic pain, and other things like chronic fatigue, constipation or diarrhea, painful menstruation, repeated miscarriages and in some cases, infertility. Research shows that it affects the immune and hormonal systems. Basically, each month, when the cells from the uterus are supposed to be leaving the body (in the menstrual cycle), they instead move into other parts of the body. There, the cells grab onto tissue and grow.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reports that, "While endometriosis is not a malignant disease, it does cause a lot of pain and suffering."

And some of that suffering comes from infertility. Annette* (not her real name), of Medford, Oregon, suffered for years, and went from one doctor to another.

"They finally wanted me to see a psychiatrist. As if I was pretending to be doubled-over with pain. I couldn't function. I was ill every time I moved," she says.

She was finally diagnosed with endometriosis only after suffering numerous miscarriages. "After an ultrasound, finally a doctor suggested a small surgical procedure, a laparoscopy. All the endo growths they find, they just zap with a laser." Her treatment seems to have been successful because after two years, she's finally pregnant.

"I'm trying hard not to be too excited," she says. "Once I got to 16 weeks, I really started getting happy. I cry when I'm talking about it. It must be the hormones."

Hormones are a big part of it this disease. "The number one component in dealing with endometriosis has to be hormone balance," says Horton. "Estrogen dominance can be a problem."

Dr Robin Rose in Ashland, Oregon, recommends women with endometriosis have their hormones checked to determine if they are at appropriate levels.

There are also some free and easy things get yourself feeling better -- get proper nutrition (eat more fresh veggies and fruits, reduce animal fats and processed carbohydrates), reduce stress, and avoid eating food treated with chemicals and hormones.

While there's no cure for endometriosis, there are a lot of research studies taking place and scientists are learning more. If you have any of the symptoms of endometriosis, don't ignore them. Write down your symptoms, how frequently you feel poorly, and what kinds of treatments you are currently using to help yourself feel better. Take this information with you when you see your health care practitioner.

For more information visit www.EndometriosisAssn.org. PregnancyAndBaby.com

Tags: endometriosis


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