Chapter 2.14 - Endometriosis
In this chapter, Dr. Donache presents Complementary/Alternative Medical (C.A.M.) Therapies for the prevention and treatment of endometriosis.
The chapter includes an overview of the disease's symptoms, conventional treatment methods, and alternative therapies, including Bio-Energetic therapies, Bodywork and Movement therapies, and Mental / Emotional treatments.
This chapter is taken from Dr. Donache's upcoming book, Finding Balance - Integrating Complementary/Alternative Medical (C.A.M.) Therapies for the Prevention of the Top 30 Diseases in America. Each section of chapter 2, which describes alternative treatments for each of the top diseases, is available as a free download on this website.
Table of Contents
Glossary of Terms Used in this Chapter
Additional Disease Descriptions and Treatments Available for Download
Table of Contents
- ABOUT THIS DOCUMENT
- CONVENTIONAL APPROACHES
- TREATMENT AND MANAGEMENT
- Treating Infertility
- Treating Pain and Recurrence
- Pain and Stress Management
- Issues and Answers
- BIO-ENERGETIC THERAPIES
BODYWORK AND MOVEMENT THERAPIES
- Nutrition and Supplements
- Enzymatic Therapies
- Rainforest and Western Herbs
- Rainforest Herbs
- Western Herbs
- Homeopathic Remedies
- Essential Oils
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
- Therapeutic Bodywork and Massage
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Hatha Yoga Postures
- PRODUCT ORDERING INFORMATION
- GLOSSARY OF TERMS
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The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. No one knows what causes endometriosis, but diet is very important in the management of this condition.
In endometriosis, tissue resembling the endometrium is found in other locations, although it is believed to have originated within the uterus. This "stray" tissue can implant in the pelvic cavity, causing a variety of signs and symptoms. Endometriosis may cause pain and infertility. Because menstruation is typically heavy, iron deficiency anemia is common. Many women with this disease experience:
- pain during sexual intercourse,
- painful bowel movements,
- incapacitating pain in the lower back and uterus,
- incapacitation pain in the pelvic cavity prior to and during menses,
- excessive bleeding - including passage of large clots and shreds of tissue,
- nausea and vomiting,
- and tenderness during pelvic examinations.
The symptoms may reflect the location of the stray tissue implants. However, some women with endometriosis have no symptoms. No one knows exactly what causes endometriosis, but a family history of the disease seems to increase the likelihood of developing it. Estimates indicate that 15% of women of reproductive age (teens through forties) may have endometriosis.
The endometrium contains blood vessels and glands. About once a month during a woman's reproductive years, one of the ovaries releases an egg into the fallopian tube. The ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, which signal the endometrium to grow in preparation for a fertilized egg to implant. When an egg is not fertilized, it passes out of the body, along with blood and pieces of the endometrium, initiating the menstrual flow, or period. One theory of how endometriosis may develop is that pieces of the endometrium stray into the fallopian tubes during menstruation. These pieces travel out of the tubes and implant elsewhere. Though not inside the uterus, the abnormal implants of endometriosis also respond to the hormonal changes controlling menstruation. Like the uterine lining, these fragments build tissue each month. The result may be thickening and internal bleeding of the implanted endometrial tissue. This can cause irritation and pain. Endometrial tissue may implant on the pelvic cavity, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, rectum and colon, and in other locations. Unlike blood from the uterine lining, however, blood from the implants have no way to leave the body. Instead, it must be absorbed by surrounding tissue, which is a comparatively slow process. In the meantime, the blood accumulates in the body cavities. The entire sequence, from bleeding through absorption, can be painful.
As the menstrual cycle recurs month after month, the implants may get bigger. They may seed new implants and form localized scar tissue and adhesions. Sometimes a collection of blood called a sac or cyst forms. Endometrial or "chocolate" cysts are common on the ovaries. These are usually found to contain moderate amounts of oxidized blood, which looks something like chocolate syrup. If a cyst ruptures, it can cause excruciating pain.
Most women who suspect endometriosis initially see their gynecologist. If infertility is
a problem, patients may be referred to a reproductive endocrinologist. In addition to a pelvic exam, doctors may recommend several tests to determine the extent of endometriosis. Ultrasound, which uses sound waves to create an image of internal organs, can be used to help locate some masses, such as an endometrioma (chocolate cyst). A more complete diagnosis can be made using laparoscopy. The surgeon may use laparotomy, which provides broader access to the affected tissues. Infertility can occur when endometrial patches, or lesions, cause a buildup of scar tissue. Webs of fibrous tissue (adhesions) can bind the reproductive organs, impairing their function.
Some believe the disease may prompt an immune system reaction. Immune cells working to destroy the stray endometrial tissue also may destroy eggs and sperm. Between 20% and 50% of women who have been treated for endometriosis suffer recurrences of endometrial adhesions within 5 to 10 years, even women who have had surgery. In addition to seeking treatment, it can be helpful to follow a healthy diet, practice relaxation techniques and massage, and avoid caffeine.
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Glossary of Terms
- Bands of fibrous tissue that cause normally separated structures to bind together; may cause pain and/or organ dysfunction.
- Endometrial tissue located in an ovary, forming a blood-filled cyst; often called a chocolate cyst because of the dark color of the thickened blood.
- A condition in which pieces of endometrium implant outside of the lining of the uterus.
- The lining of the uterus; usually shed monthly during the menstrual period.
- A hormone produced by the ovaries that signals the endometrium to develop.
- Fallopian Tube
- The passageway connecting each ovary with the uterus.
- Surgical removal of the uterus; may be accompanied by the removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
- In Vitro Fertilization
- A process by which an egg from a woman is united with a man's sperm in a laboratory and the fertilized egg is then transferred to a woman's uterus.
- A surgical procedure in which a physician inserts a narrow tube holding a camera and light into the body to view the abdominal and/or pelvic organs. Additional tubes may be inserted to perform surgery.
- A surgical procedure in which the abdominal cavity is opened to gain broader access than allowed by laparoscopy.
- Organs that contain eggs and produce hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.
- A hormone produced by the ovaries that, along with estrogen, affects the endometrium lining.
- Reproductive Endocrinologist
- A physician who has training in reproductive conditions such as infertility and endometriosis.
- A procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create a visual image of bodily structures.
- A hollow, pear-shaped organ lined by endometrium, located in the center of the pelvis; the place where a fertilized egg can develop into a fetus.
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