More than a decade ago, I was first diagnosed with endometriosis and then adenomyosis. Two similar medical terms, both are giving pain and suffering to millions of women worldwide.
Endometriosis is often equated with period pain but it is much more than period pain. It’s a chronic condition and many lack awareness and resources to help them with this disease.
A term was coined – “endowarrior”. Many organizations are built to raise awareness and spread word about endometriosis. And help fellow sufferers in their journey.
There’s power in weakness / pain – a life motto that I cling to. A decade long of this indescribable pain and suffering. Resounding symptoms of pain, stomach upset, bloatedness, body weakness and recently low mood. My last ultrasound revealed progressive adenomyosis and adenomyoma, reoccuring hydrosalpinx and ovarian cysts.
An endometriosis journey can be described as trailing down a long dark road without any maps, tools, or light to help guide the way. A journey without being understood or heard. At least, that has been my experience.
– Marisol Velez
Proud of our endo-community in Instagram, endowarriors give each other support and advices. After 10 years of TTC (trying to conceive) and enormous amount of pain, I’ve decided to just have everything removed. Yes, one tough decision that endowarriors go through… 😦
It’s been a while since I posted something about endometriosis. I was diagnosed about a decade a go and yes that long!!! but I’ve been suffering with dysmenorrhea since the start of my menstrual age.
Time to time, I get tired sharing my experiences in social media that only a few friends can relate. Sufferers like me can get frustrated and hopeless in finding a definite cure. I’m friends with fellow “endowarrior” and I admire them for passionately posting their journeys in social media.
As it is reported that 1 out of 10 women is affected, more than 11% of women between ages 15-44, and common in women in their 30s to 40s which makes it hard for them to conceive.
“This is why one of the biggest symptoms of endometriosis is – chronic inflammation.” – Dr. Berg
Endometriosis is a long-term condition and considered to be a chronic illness. One of the most painful and debilitating diseases. Our battle cry – “It is not just a period pain!”
I tried a myriad of herbal supplements and I’ve had various medical procedures, many of which I vaguely remember. Then I came across Doctor Eric Berg and his videos are practical. Sharing his video/s about endometriosis and would probably post more about women’s health again soon…
Food that can trigger an inflammation is considered an inflammatory. Women with endometriosis/ or adenomyosis should stay away from these inflammatories to lessen flare up & discomforts we experience regularly.
Inflammation – is our body’s immune response, a natural response to protect itself from harm.
When our body is in continuous inflammation due to stress, bad habits & unhealthy eating, it becomes “chronic” manifesting into various symptoms such as; fatigue (loss of energy), digestive problems like diarrhea or constipation, skin issues, allergies, asthma, depression, anxiety, & high blood glucose levels.
With body in constant inflammation, our cells start attacking our body (auto-immune response). This results to many illnesses, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, heart diseases and cancer.
So what are these inflammatories that we should get rid from our diet?
saturated and trans fatty acids
alcohol & caffeine
sodas & other drinks with artificial sweeteners
After that very painful attack recently, I’ve made a decision to really eliminate the inflammatories in my diet. In our international community we call it – endodiet.
I thought I was going to die in severe pain, while vomiting everything I ate that day. Perhaps, this is life-changing for me, optimistic as always, dealing with endometriosis while helping fellow endo-sufferers by sharing my story, learnings and researches.
Usual expression, but it is true – food is medicine.
Since inflammation can have so many triggers and there are inevitable factors such as pollution, injury or sickness. We have the power to control and be mindful of what we eat/drink to stay healthy or pain-free. Join me for further studies on how to help and manage our unique condition.
Next post we will discuss the best anti-inflammatories.
If you are like me, sadly, having both endometriosis and adenomyosis – we have natural alternatives to deal with these conditions. No need to suffer in silence, I know entirely how you feel and the infallible agony you are going through, for I’m experiencing it too!
I sympathised with my endo-sisters in their 20’s or 30’s who had hysterectomy as their last resort. That’s what most doctors would recommend to end patient’s complain about pain.
But is it the only cure?
If there’s anything we can do to avoid the ousting of our wombs or ovaries, we would definitely jump on it right? Most especially when we’re still trying to conceive. We are often confronted with varying dilemmas of whether to have it removed or not, take synthetic hormones to mask the symptoms and pain, and the endless misconception that the pain we are feeling is “normal” for women during their menstruation.
In Endometriosis Diet: Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid, there are certain lifestyle choices that play a big role in the progression of endometriosis or adenomyosis. Foods can greatly influence the hormones, particularly estrogen balance, and can negatively affect us with these conditions.
Both diseases are caused by what else – hormonal imbalance, usually an excessive of estrogen supply. The management for endometriosis and endometriosis is the conventional palliative therapy with pain medications and hormonal manipulation. Minor surgeries and the final course is hysterectomy.
“Various published studies have shown that 12% of patients with Adenomyosis also have been diagnosed with Endometriosis in other sites outside the uterus, within the pelvis. As high as 62% of women who had hysterectomy were found to have this disease on pathology reports.” – alternativesurgery.com
Endo-diet for me seems unthinkable & impractical (pardon the candidness). Of course I want to be healthy but being able to eat only what is suggested ugh! is a punishment. And so I thought of improvising, tweaking it a little bit. I call it myhormone-helper nutrition. Long name alright, it is basically a diet of having mostly plant-based whole foods and some selected supplements.
I still indulge on eating seafood, pork, free-range chicken but not red meat. I now avoid red meat, alcohol, artificial sweetener and other inflammatories. I also began reducing my calorie intake and monitor my calorie consumption. There’s a lot actually, but baby steps is crucial and really important.
So what is plant-based whole foods?
Plant-based examples; almond milk, coconut sugar, whole grains, cereal, nuts, legumes, fruits – food that didn’t undergo processing. Organic and free from chemical or GMO’s. The supplements I’m taking are posted in herbal supplements. We may have different reactions and in Filipino saying “hiyang” when certain herb improves our situation. So I suggest to do baby steps, take supplements one at a time and monitor any response.
Wellness practices – Lifestyle change
Exercise – when we sweat, our body releases endorphins. These are chemicals to help you become less sensitive to pain. It also triggers a positive feeling in the body, naming it “happy hormones”. Do you know that I went back to the gym and started doing dumbbell workouts, and I feel so good after workout.
R and R (rest and relaxation) – living in constant pain can cause more stress. Making symptoms worse and you more anxious and sensitive to pain. So chill out, relax and practice deep breathing exercises.
Acupuncture – this I have yet to try. It is a traditional Chinese therapy that uses fine needles to stimulate points in your body. It increases blood flow and releases natural pain-killing chemicals thus help us in pain during flare-ups.
Counting Calories – which helps a lot in weight management. Using a mobile app to assist you, I have the free version of – Lose it! and thinking of upgrading to premium because of a continued effort to improve my condition.
These are some points to consider or to try, paying tribute to my endo-community. I recently underwent some endometrial procedures, my doctor removed two benign polyps from my uterus (thank God) and so far I’m pain free!
Having both endometriosis and adenomyosis should not dictate your life. It led however to a drastic awakening on my part, but I got up and continue to get up in spite the pain. Seek help and there’s always hope – #endohope.
Years with endometriosis made me scour the internet for answers, explanations, & remedies. Spoke with many experts including my friends; Doc April Fabian and Doc Mae Syki-Young. Sadly, endometriosis and adenomyosis are both understudied and misunderstood. But no time for self-pity, not me, and so I began a crusade against most women’s health issues.
The thing with doctors is that they’re too busy to explain our illness. And so when I was made aware of these complications, it hit me hard – I’m not getting well. Instead of falling into despair, I decided to continue my advocacy, share my story so others can learn from it.
This post is to help my endo-sisters take care of themselves, save the rest of their reproductive organs in natural ways possible, manage painful symptoms, avoid further complications, when you’re like me – afflicted with endometriosis and adenomyosis.
So far, I had two surgeries since the time of diagnosis. First surgery when the doctor was proudly pre-occupied in using the latest technology, yet there was lack of sympathy and everything seemed fuzzy. I thought I had to seek another opinion. And so I did.
“The hard part is that you can’t really do anything—you can’t fix it.”
“You can treat heavy periods but you can’t get rid of adenomyosis without a hysterectomy. That’s why we don’t look for it [as doctors] because we can’t do anything about it.”
“People often think that with modern medicine, everything can be fixed. No, actually, a lot of things can’t be fixed but we can do a lot to minimize people’s symptoms,” explained Dr. Lisa Dabney (harpersbazaar.com)
I hope it’s not too late for me, my dear Nanay (grandma) would always remind and worry about me and I was like “I’ll be okay, this is nothing.” I’ve been always “matapang” which means brave in Filipino, in dealing with life’s hurdles. Until I discovered two years ago that I also have adenomyosis. So these two plus other adhesions are my arch nemeses.
“The medical definition of endometriosis does not even begin to describe the reality of what it means to have endometriosis. The next time you hear about endometriosis, please remember how devastating this disease can be to a person. While endometriosis can be frustrating, if you have a loved one, friend or co-worker who suffers from endometriosis, please remember to treat them with respect and compassion.” – vitalhealth.com
Endometriosis was explained in previous posts. You can check them here —
Adenomyosis in brief is a condition when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. Similar to endometriosis with displaced endometrial tissues but the affected area is different. In adenomysis it is inside the wall of the uterus, as to endometriosis is outside the uterus and can be on other organs of the body like intestines, appendix and lungs (rare).
Though there are no specific cures, you can positively help your condition with pain management, healthy lifestyle, good/proper nutrition and exercise. The food we ingest affects our bodies especially our hormones. The endocrine system like the rest of our body systems work in complex structure that begins from ingestion of nutrients. And so we shall start with food.
There’s a diet called endo-diet. In endo-diet there are suggested foods to avoid and to take. See below;
Foods to avoid –
trans-fat – Recent research showed higher rates of endometriosis diagnosis among women who consume diet high in trans fat. Trans fat is found on fried, processed and fast foods.
red meat – the consumption of red meat can increase risk to develop endometriosis as suggested by some research.
gluten – there’s one study showed a decreased in pain by 75% after eliminating gluten in their diet.
FODMAP – stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are all types of carbohydrates. When poorly absorbed, these can aggravate symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) including bloating, constipation, flatulence, pain and nausea. It is best to read the labels and watch out for the following that has FODMAP in it; fructose, lactose, polyols like xylitol, maltitol & mannitol found mainly on artificial sweeteners.
alcohol & caffeine – these can promote inflammation and worsening of our condition.
Foods to eat (yay!)
fibrous foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains
iron-riched foods to replenish the blood loss in heavy bleeding or clotting. Examples are dark leafy greens, broccoli, beans, nuts and seeds
foods high in essential fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, chia and flax seeds
anti-oxidant rich foods like oranges, cranberry, dark chocolate (yum!) and beets
Supplements as mentioned in this post – herbal supplements for Endometriosis were found to be also beneficial. Studies showed significant reduction in pain & other crippling symptoms using supplementation.
There’s just too much, ikr! but ladies don’t lose hope. We can do baby steps, and remember you’re not alone.
Let’s continue on next post! Thanks for your time 🙂