Endo Myth's Busted | Top 5 Ways Nutrition Can Assist With Endo Symptoms
Although one in ten people who currently have, or previously had a uterus have endometriosis, there is still a large majority of the population that are not endo-aware. This condition can severely reduce a person’s quality of life, often causing chronic pelvic pain, inflammation, and other physical and mental health difficulties.
What are the key symptoms to look out for? (variable between individuals)
- Pain during sex,
- Changes in bowel and urination habits,
- Bleeding longer than normal,
- Heavy or irregular bleeding,
- Tiredness or low energy, especially around menstruation,
- Abdominal, back or pelvic pain, especially around the menstrual cycle,
Endo (as it is commonly termed) is a chronic inflammation of the reproductive organs, wherein tissue similar to that which lines the uterus grows in other places of the body. This tissue is not limited to just grow within the pelvic cavity, which is a commonly confused conception. With the onset of each period, this tissue sheds and bleeds. This causes inflammation and consequently forms scar tissue, cysts and adhesions. There is unfortunately no cure for this condition, however there are some therapies that may assist the progression of it.
As there is a lot of misinformation about Endo let's jump into some myth-busting!
It is normal to experience heavy, painful periods.
False. If you are needing to change your tampon or pad after less than 2 hours, or if you pass clots larger than a 50c piece, you should seek a Doctor’s advice. Experiencing disabling, ongoing pain in the pelvis and lower back before, during or after menstruation, as well as during or after sex, may be a sign of Endometriosis.
Those who develop Endo become infertile.
False. When diagnosed with this condition, there may still a chance for that individual to conceive a child. Studies have shown that 30-50% will experience impacts to their infertility.
Diet does not play a role in Endometriosis progression.
False. The building body of evidence supports the role that nutrition plays in the development and progression of Endo through reduced inflammation and affected oestrogen levels.
What about PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)?
PCOS is different to Endo, in that women diagnosed with this condition typically have many partially formed follicles, containing an egg that rarely reaches maturation or can be fertilised. While the exact mechanism of onset has not been determined yet, it is speculated that insulin resistance may drive this condition.
What are the key symptoms to look out for?
- Irregular menstrual cycles,
- Excessive facial or body hair,
- Hair loss,
- Issues with fertility, as well as,
- Depression and anxiety.
How can nutrition help?
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet has been shown to have therapeutic effects on the progression and symptoms of these conditions. Here are the top 5 elements to this style of eating.
It is the indigestible part of plants that promote bowel movements, which ultimately stimulates the excretion of oestrogen. It can be found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, cereals, nuts and seeds. The skin and husk of these foods is where most of the fibre is contained, so opting for unpeeled and whole grain varieties is best when possible!
- Fruits and Vegetables
We all know that fruit and vegetables are essential for our health, but the pesticides and dioxins found on the outside of them have been linked to endometriosis and its symptoms. Those with Endometriosis should take extra caution when buying non-organic supermarket products by washing with a baking soda and water.
Consuming a colourful diet with a focus on antioxidant-rich foods, like fatty fish, berries, leafy greens and healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil help to protect the body from damaging free radicals that cause inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to be particularly beneficial not only in anti-inflammatory processes, but also in egg health. Aim to include generous amounts of nuts, seeds, extra-virgin olive oil and fatty fish like salmon in the diet.
More recent studies have found that a low FODMAP diet may have therapeutic effects on the progression of Endometriosis. Trialling the reduction of fermentable carbohydrates with the assistance of an accredited practising dietitian may help relieve some gut symptoms associated with this condition.
Need more individualised help with a FODMAP-trained dietitian? Book in for a FREE 15 Minute Chat with Kerri a FODMAP-trained accredited dietitian to discuss how she can assist in creating a personalised plan that helps to relieve your symptoms and align with your lifestyle and goals.
For more information check out these websites: