Endometriosis is a complex disorder of the female reproductive tract, affecting 1 in 10 women. The far too challenging nature of this condition means that there are many more women either mis- or under-diagnosed.
It is a condition that affects not just monthly cycles, but the entire body; from the immune system’s ability to control inflammation and infection to the efficiency with which the body can produce and use energy and, eventually the spirit and confidence as women.
We caught up with Nutritional Therapist and founder of Wild Nutrition to share how she successfully manages her symptoms naturally...
Having been diagnosed with the condition myself over 13 years ago, I'm all to familiar with the debilitating symptoms that come with this condition.
I did not realise I had endometriosis until I was 26 years old, as a result of studying nutrition. My symptoms, however, started many years before that; from the start of menstruation at the age of 14 I had suffered severe period pains and bowel discomfort and often felt dizzy and faint. In the coming years I added chronic tiredness to the list of symptoms and was duly diagnosed with post-viral syndrome. Over the next 14 years, I continued to receive many diagnoses including chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgic encephalitis (ME), from many doctors.
A laparoscopy over 10 years later showed moderate to severe endometriosis in my fallopian tubes (likely to have been there since the start of menstruation) and that natural fertility was unlikely; I now understand that I am one of many thousands of women who are told this potentially devastating news unnecessarily. Determined to challenge this prognosis, I turned to natural medicine and the power of supplement support and lifestyle changes. I, and the many women I have worked with in the clinic stand testament to the restorative power of food and natural supplements to support recovery and daily management of endometriosis.
Research published in Fertility & Sterility demonstrated that nutritional therapy through diet and supplements was more effective at obtaining relief from pain and improving quality of life, than medical hormonal treatment post-surgery.
I am now a mother of 3, as the results of natural conceptions. This incredible experience was the inspiration behind my first book, Take Control of Your Endometriosis.
Some gentle changes really can help you make strides in your experience of endometriosis.
Eat Colour: Research shows women who ate green vegetables 13 times or more per week (roughly twice a day) were 70% less likely to have endometriosis. A study published earlier this year concluded that Carotenoid rich foods (especially citrus fruit) also positively affected symptoms of endometriosis. Use vegetable based smoothies, juicing or soups to deeply nourish.
Befriend your gut: Beneficial gut bacteria can reduce the production of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme that remakes oestrogen in the gut and can contribute to its dominance. Incorporate natural, organic yoghurt into your daily diet either on its own or use it to make dressings and sauces. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut or Kefir are excellent sources of beneficial bacteria too or take a probiotic supplement (min. 10 billion CFU and without added FOS).
Fats are essential: essential fats found in nuts, seeds and oily fish can reduce inflammation associated with endometriosis. Use of essential fatty acids are blocked by processed oils and margarines, as well as white flour, sugar, excessive animal and monounsaturated fats, alcohol, poor nutrition and stress. Keeping these to a minimum is vital to reduce inflammation. Taking an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement providing over 1000mg of fatty acids each day.
Be conscious of what you put in and on your body: Bleached tampons and sanitary towels are a controversial area in the endometriosis debate. Tampons use bleached paper products that contain dioxins , proven to have an adverse affect on the hormonal system . Chemicals, such as paraben’s and phthalates, found in your toiletries and cosmetics have also been linked with the development of endometriosis. You can find more information from the Women’s Environmental Network (www.wen.org.uk).
Supplements: Natural, high quality supplements can make a vast difference and is why I have a range devoted to women’s hormonal health at Wild Nutrition. I would advise either seeking the advice of a Nutritional Therapist or speaking with an in-house experienced nutritionist such as we do at Wild Nutrition.
 U.S EPA, (1985) Health Assessment document for polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins. Office of Health and Environmental Assessment. EPA/600-8-84/01 4f
 DeVito MJ and Schecter A. (2002) Exposure assessment to dioxins from the use of tampons and diapers. Environmental Health Perspectives. 110:23-28
 Nassar S. (2003) Tampon Safety. National Centre for Policy Research (CPR) for women and Families.