Diet and Endometriosis
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis, as you may know and/or experience, can be a very uncomfortable and painful disorder to live with. It is one of the most common gynecological disorders affecting over 5 million women in the U.S and is the #1 cause of infertility in women. However not much is known about endometriosis. It is a hormone related disorder caused when the cells that usually line the inside of the uterus, the endometrium, begin to grow outside of the uterus. These growths, termed lesions, form painful scar tissue each month when they bleed and break down. Each month when you bleed, it exits the vagina, with endometriosis when this displaced tissue bleeds it is trapped. This irritates the surrounding tissues, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions that can cause intense pelvic pain. Over time the scar tissue and adhesions, bands of fiber like tissue, can cause organs and tissue to stick to each other. Basically not fun! Endometriosis usually involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissues lining your pelvis.
Since the endometriosis bleeds with your period the main symptom is pelvic pain. Women with endometriosis experience their cycle as extremely painful and uncomfortable that unfortunately gets worse over time.
- Painful Periods (Dysmenorrhea)
- Pain with intercourse
- Recurring pelvic pain
- Painful urination and/or bowel movement
- Excessive Bleeding
Although these are the most common symptoms you may also experience;
In light of all the doom and gloom there is a light at the end of the tunnel! There are many interventions available to treat and manage endometriosis! Here at Alliance Obgyn, we care about our ladies! If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, we urge you to see your GYN specialist as soon as possible, relief is possible and early intervention will save you from so much OUCH! Here are a few interventions that are available;
- Pain Relievers
- Lupron –Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRha)
- Oral contraceptives
While these treatments are awesome, there are things you can do on your own to manage and treat your symptoms. If you do not have Endometriosis this applies to you as well! It is DIET! Diet is one of the easiest ways to prevent, treat and/or manage your endometriosis! Studies have shown a relationship between disease and low intake of vegetable and fruit and high intake of polyunsaturated fat, ham, beef and other red meat. The same relationship was found when it came to risk of endometriosis. Basically the more green leafy and cruciferous vegetables and fresh fruit you consume the lower your risk for developing endometriosis, and the more beef and red meat you consume the higher your risk. Don’t worry though, this does not mean you have to go vegan or vegetarian!
If you already have Endometriosis, adding plentiful green vegetables and fruit to your diet will do wonders for your pelvic pain! There are a few things to focus on when it comes to an endo-friendly diet. Anti-inflammatory, magnesium rich, iron rich, and omega-3 fatty acid foods.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid these foods that lead to inflammation-dairy, processed foods, refined sugars, caffeine, and refined carbs (usually white carbs!). Soy, and if you can alcohol, should also be avoided because it’s a high-estrogen food that can have estrogenic effects. Remember Estrogen feeds the endometriosis!
Foods to Enjoy
Try opting for these nutrient dense foods that are anti-inflammatory!
- Green Leafy Veggies!
- Bok Choy, Celery
- Broccoli and Cauliflower! (Cauliflower is so beautifully versatile)
- Walnuts and other nuts!
- Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds
- Turmeric, Ginger
- Bone Broth
- Coconut oil
- Lean White meats
While these are a few suggestions to start, there are many wonderful fruits and veggies that you can add into your diet.
QUICK TIP– try building your meals around veggies and legumes(beans) instead of meat! Don’t worry you won’t be missing out on your meat protein as veggies and legumes are jam packed with healthy plant protein. This will help you lesson the focus and portion size of the meat by making it a small side or garnish instead of the main protein.
Magnesium helps soothe the uterus and reduce pain, here are some foods rich in Magnesium;
- Pumpkin seeds
- Black Beans
- Sunflower seeds
Remember to also drink plenty of water, as it maximizes all your bodies functions and makes you feel great!
Endometriosis. Mayo Clinic Diseases and Conditions. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20236425 Accessed March 20 2017
Fjerbæk, Agnete et al. Endometriosis, dysmenorrhea and diet-What is the evidence?
European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology , Volume 132 , Issue 2 , 140 – 147 1759.
Parazzini, F. Chiaffarino, M. Surace, L. Chatenoud, S. Cipriani, V. Chiantera, G. Benzi, L. Fedele; Selected food intake and risk of endometriosis. Hum Reprod 2004; 19 (8): 1755-1759. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deh395