Why do 1 in 10 women in the UK suffer silently?
In this blog we explore continue to explore what 1 in 10 women in the UK, will suffer from silently – ENDOMETRIOSIS.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. During the average woman’s period she experiences pain due to inflammation of the tissue in the lining of the womb.
For an endometriosis sufferer, inflammation may occur not just in the womb but also in all other organs where this tissue may have spread to, thus multiplying the level of pain. But the pain is often not limited to just their periods and endometriosis sufferers often suffer consistent pain outside their normal period cycle.
This condition presents with several complications however, what remains startling is the period of time that an average endometriosis sufferer struggles with their condition before being diagnosed. We have learned it can be anywhere between 7 – 12 years sometimes even 19 years.
We speak with our friend Hannah again, trying to explore a bit more, what happens after diagnosis, the impact it has on her physical and mental health and how the she has built a support network around herself to help her cope with the diagnosis.
Question 1: What have you been told about endometriosis and what it
means for your fertility?
My name is Hannah and I have been diagnosed with Endometriosis since February 2019 however silently suffering for almost 12 years. I am 1 in 10.
When being diagnosed with Endometriosis, no medical professional told me the struggles I may have with fertility, this is something I have had to learn for myself with doing endless research and talking to others online who also have Endometriosis and others who are also struggling to conceive. I was told after my diagnostic laparoscopy that my fallopian tubes were blocked. In the past month, I have had a procedure which has successfully unblocked my tubes, most possibly the best news I have had all year!
Question 2: Of the information you have learned, does any of it concern
The information I have learnt since my diagnosis has and still does worry me. The thought and feeling of failure torment me every single day and I didn’t realise how hard it would be and how much it would impact each day of my life. My lifelong goal is to have a baby and to be able to one day make my husband a father. I have had many blood tests to get me ready in preparation to be referred to a fertility clinic if I do not conceive by December 2019.
Question 3: Do you discuss this with people you know or any specific
forums? What has their input been and how has it affected your decision
I am lucky enough to have my Husband who has stuck by my side through every test, surgery and appointment and we do talk about this regularly. I am able to tell him how I’m feeling and he is my biggest support. My family are so incredibly supportive through this journey of both of ours which is so comforting as it can feel like a very lonely time at some points. I started a Instagram account very soon after my diagnosis of Endometriosis and the support I receive every single day on here talking to others who are in the same position as me, has helped me so much. To know you are not alone is a great feeling.
Question 4: To what extent does having endometriosis impact your sex
life? What adjustments have you had to make due to this illness?
Endometriosis means people can experience and most likely experience painful sex. Going back to the support of my husband, he is so incredibly understanding and knows how painful this can be for me. I have never been made to feel that our sex life has been impacted massively but the hope to be able to enjoy it every time is something I wish for!
Question 5: Would you be open to alternate therapies to help
I am extremely open to trying alternative therapies to cope with my Endometriosis. However, the costs of paying privately for treatments feels like almost an impossible task. If treatments and therapies were given as an option to those of us with Endometriosis without an extortionate cost, then I am certain many would be open to trying anything to help cope with their daily struggles of Endometrioses.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Hannah for sharing her story with us.
Studies in the recent years posit that endometriosis isan illness triggered and potentially sustained by oestrogen dominance, which is a condition where the levels of oestrogen in a woman’s endocrine is present at levels which represent an imbalance in proportion to the other sex hormone progesterone.
This overabundance of oestrogen hormone is what triggers and supports the promulgation of endometrial lesions, tissues and growth.
So why is a diagnosis so hard to come by for women and why importantly is it dependant only on visual siting of lesions.
And if all women have oestrogen present in their endocrine then why is it that 1 in 10 women are impacted by endometriosis?
Studies undertaken in 2017 by a Spanish OBGYN have some answers that may shed some light.
Based on research undertaken with a cohort of women who attended ‘Virgen de la Arrixaca’ University Hospital, Murcia, Spain – Dr Sanchez-Ferrer’s research now indicates that
- anogenital distance, (which is determined while you are still a baby in your mother’s womb),this is the distance between your anus and genitals and
- the measure of the Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) a hormone which is an indicator of number of follicles in the ovaries,
can help with early diagnosis of endometriosis, including the category and type of endometriosis, prior to surgery.
Smaller anogenital distance in combination with low AMH levels maybe an early indicator of endometriosis, especially deeply infiltrative endometriosis (DIE) where the endometriosis travels to far reaches of the body including the stomach, bladder and other organs in the pelvic region.
Maternal oestrogen levels and endometriosis in progeny:
In a first study of its kind, Dr Sanchez-Ferrer& Jamie Mendiola(1) posit that, there may be pre-natal factors, causing an increase in a mother’s oestrogen levels, which impacts the foetus’ predisposition to endometriosis.
In simple terms, female babies in their mother’s womb when exposed to excess oestrogen appear to have smaller anogenital distances.
Dr Sanchez –Ferrer’s study indicates that of her cohort women with the shortest anogential distances also suffered from deeply infiltrative endometriosis, thereby demonstrating causality.
Causes for excess oestrogen in mothers could be natural, but given the prevalence of endometriosis in the last half a century, we think there maybe elements of environmental toxins causing this imbalance.
Xenoestrogens in a woman’s endocrine could be a function of exposure to plastic intimate use products such a menstrual pads and tampons (2).
Homecare products such as cleaning sprays too could be contributors.
Excessive consumption of phyto-estrogens (or plant based estrogens) such as soy could also contribute to the excess oestrogen in a women’s endocrine.
Bringing oestrogen to homeostasis
We touched upon the question of alternate therapies with intent.
Eastern medicine offers a more comprehensive array of therapies to help alleviate symptoms or in some instances offer remedies for endometriosis. They do this, by balancing the levels of oestrogen in a women’s endocrine, which then reverses the symptoms.
Western medicine, in some instances, offers slightly more aggressive approaches to oestrogen reversal and managing endometriosis symptoms such as:
- putting a woman in temporary menopause to alleviate symptoms
- continual surgery to remove adhesions
Eastern therapies on the other hand finds a gentle alternative to steadily reducing the levels of oestrogen to homeostasis, without any negative sideffects and impacts, such as temporary menopause.
When referring to Eastern medicine we talk of the two most ancient schools of medicine namely:
- Ayurveda (which translates as a the science of longevity) from the Indian subcontinent and
- TCM or traditional Chinese medicine from China
Both schools of medicines focus on coexistence with the plant world and have long pre-dated modern day medicine in safeguarding people’s health.
These options are likely only privately available and therefore would represent an investment, but an investment is one’s health is likely the best investment one can make.
For those ladies so inclined to try some of these alternatives, we have listed names of a few London based clinics you may wish to contact.
NB: We are not in any affiliation with either of these clinics, nor is this an endorsement. The author offers a suggestion of these options, should the reader wish to consider them.
NB2: All information stated her comprise the author’s opinion, based on her research which is cited below in this blog and does not constitute medical opinion.
Until our next blog, best wishes from the team at LUXStore.
LUXStore, are purveyors of organic period pads, whose core mantra is to enlighten and so empower women to make the best choices about their health.
Make a small change to your life today and help make a lasting change to your health by purchasing our organic period products.
- Maria Sanchez-Ferrer et all Investigation of anogential distance as a diagnostic tool in endometriosishttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1472648317300020
- Singleton DW et all Xenoestorgen exposure and mechanisms for endocrine disruption https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12456297