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… 😦
During our Psychology Class by Yale University, I first encountered the term Dysthymia.
Under Mood Disorder – Dysthymia or Persistent Depressive Disorder PDD (dis-THIE-me-uh), is a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression.
In this book I’m currently reading – I want to die but I want to eat tteobokki, this term was mentioned and I hurried to my notes to review.
Endometriosis contributes immensely to my case. Depression affects women twice as often as men regardless of having endometriosis or not.
The association between endometriosis and psychological disorders has been reported in several previous studies, with depression and anxiety being the most common conditions. The incidence of such symptoms is higher in women with endometriosis than in any other gynecological condition.
According to John Hopkins Medicine – Depression is a mood disorder that involves your body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way you eat and sleep, think about things, and feel about yourself. It’s not the same as being unhappy or in a “blue” mood. It’s not a sign of weakness or something that can be willed or wished away. People with depression can’t “snap out of it” and get better.
People experience depression in different ways. Symptoms may include:
Lasting sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Less ability to concentrate, think, and/or make decisions
Weight and/or appetite changes due to over- or under-eating
Changes in sleep patterns, such as fitful sleep, inability to sleep, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
To diagnose Dysthymia, a person must have a depressed mood for atleast 2 years (since it is persistent and long term). Or one year for children and adolescents, along with at least 2 of the above symptoms. The symptoms of this illness may look like other mental health conditions. Talk with a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
*Disclaimer: This post does not intend to replace, dictate or fully define diagnosis and treatment by a qualified physician. It is intended only for informative purposes.
It is a must for endowarriors to take time and read every label both in food and skincare. And I think it’s also pertinent for healthy individuals to read labels as there are many chemicals that can cause diseases like cancer and cell damage.
Unfortunately, majority of sunscreens on the market today are more harmful than beneficial according to Huffpost. Sunscreens are designed to decrease your risk of skin cancer and allow you to enjoy the sun without worry. Modern day sunscreens have ingredients that may increase your risk of cancer and disrupt the functioning of your hormones.
The chemical oxybenzone permeates the skin, enters the bloodstream and imitates estrogen in the body. It can activate allergic reactions along with another harmful ingredient – retinyl palmitate.
Chemical suncreens that are potentially harmful to our health (in order of toxicity from highest to lowest);
News of famous brands recalling their sunscreen were in several sites recently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention routinely detects oxybenzone in more than 96 percent of the American population. Study participants who reported using sunscreen have higher oxybenzone exposures (Zamoiski 2015).
Experst suggest to avoid sunscreens with chemicals mentioned above and prefer mineral sunscreens as it is said to be safer. Mineral or Physical sunscreens like titanium dioxide and iron oxide are the ingredients to look for in a good sunscreen.
Sharing the sunscreen products I have been using lately, still it’s to your discretion to be mindful of these carcinogenic warnings. Please know that this post is not a paid ad. These products use physical or mineral sunscreen thus avoiding exposure to carcinogenic chemicals like benzene.
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…
Vitex or chasteberry is a female friendly herb that’s been used for centuries. It is proven effective and in scientific studies, too.
Vitex is one of the most popular herbal remedies for PMS and cramps. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine found that after being treated with vitex for three menstrual cycles, 93 percent of patients reported a decrease in the number of PMS symptoms or a complete end of PMS complaints. (1)
As with every herbal I take, I make sure I read reviews, facts, history and testimonies if there’s any. To lessen mistakes, wastage and to save money. Plus, I’m doing the homework for you, saving you time on research & mobile data, you’re welcome 🙂
If you are like me who’s in 1 out ten. Taking tried and tested herbs could be beneficial for us. To lessen symptoms, alleviate pains and discomfort, and help in normalizing of our hormones. I’m currently into injectable type of hormones (luprolex) and thus gives me menopausal like symptoms, the more reason I should take vitex together with my other supplements including Organic Spirulina, Vitamin B-complex, non-acidic vitamin C and Evening Primrose Oil.
Please keep in mind that vitex is not a hormone, it’s a medicinal plant or fruit that reminds our bodies to produce the actual hormone – progesterone.
Here, we will talk about the best foods that fight inflammation.
Whether you are an endo-sufferer or simply health-conscious, you will get some helpful recommendations in this post.
Nowadays, people get sick easily and there more cases of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Also known as modern-day metabolic diseases. My grandmother rarely falls ill because in their time they’re taught to eat veggies and fish.
Stress, environmental toxins, pandemic lack of sleep, unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle can all contribute to inflammation.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good nutrition.
Even the bible have spoken a lot about it. “He gives food to every creature, His love endures forever.” – Psalm 136:25
As promised here are the best anti-inflammatory foods;
green leafy vegetables
fruits like anti-oxidant rich berries
herbs and spices including turmeric, cinnamon, etc.
*Broccoli is an example of cruciferous vegetables. It is highly nutritious and is rich in sulforaphane – an anti oxidant and anti-inflammatory that fights inflammation by reducing levels of cytokines and NF-kb. Sulforaphane is a sulfur-containing compound that gives it a bitter bite. Another superfood is spinach. No wonder it’s the favorite of popeye 🙂 Spinach is packed with anti-inflammatory carotenoids – pigments that give them it’s color (1,2)
*Fruits like berries are packed with anti-oxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Berries have anthocyanins which are effective anti-inflammatories and improve immunity. Polyphenols reduce the risk of chronic metabolical diseases and give the fruit its beautiful bright colors. (3)
*Whole grains are considered whole foods. Our stomach digest grains slowly, thereby minimising sudden spikes in blood sugar that promote inflammation. They are also a good source of magnesium. (5)
*Amino acid tryptophan on nuts lower pain sensitivity and examples of nuts are almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and so on. High in omega-3 fatty acids, some of the phytonutrients in walnuts are hard to find in other foods. (6)
Spirulina, turmeric and other herbals will be separately discussed in future post.
This type of assortment is very similar to a Mediterranean diet, while others call it Paleo diet. According to Harvard studies, chronic inflammation has been strongly linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression and Alzheimer’s.
Best way to fight inflammation is with a healthy diet.
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 🙂
Envious of other countries where they have shown support, sympathy and awareness to those suffering in endometriosis. There’s even an organisation to help endo-sufferers raise fund, and begin valuable scientific research to find a cure for this “invisible” illness.
1. It takes an average of 10 years to accurately diagnose endometriosis.
2. One in Ten (1 in 10) women gets affected by it.
3. that’s about 176 million women in the world have endometriosis.
4. 68% of women with endometriosis were misdiagnosed with another condition.
*ultrasound – to diagnose this illness or other causes of pelvic pain. This test uses high frequency sound waves to create images of what’s inside the body. It cannot tell however if you have endometriosis but still helpful to see if you have cyst formations. This I need to have yearly or as advised by my Ob to monitor the cysts, scars or adhesions due to endometriosis.
*laparoscopy – this is an invasive procedure which was done to me more than 5 years ago. During this test, the doctor will make tiny incisions to insert the laparoscope – in my case 5 incisions, to see the endometrial implants, some may have to collect sample for biopsy and remove adhesions.
*SISH(saline infusion sonography) – is a type of ultrasound where a small volume of saline is inserted into the uterus, which then allows the lining of the uterus to be clearly seen on uterine scan.
*hysteroscopy – using a hysteroscope, similar to that of laparoscopy, the doctor inserts that to view into the cervix and inside the uterus. It can also remove polyp/s like in my case, and get samples for lab testing.
These procedures are very crucial in diagnosing and management of this condition. Please see your doctor to help and guide you in your endo-journey.
Hope this post helps, supporting fellow endo-sisters an once of pain at a time. See you again.