Endometriosis affects more than 11% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 and can make it more difficult for women between 30-40 to get pregnant.
The cause of endometriosis is controversial. There are a number of risk factors which science has looked at:
- bio-accumulation of hormone-look-alike molecules from medications, the food chain & hair and body care chain
- stress-induced hormone deficiencies and imbalances
- interactions between the gut & microbiome and urogenital microbiome
- other drivers of on-going chronic inflammation
Why science is so interested in these risk factors arises from the observation that women with Endometriosis often suffer for other maladies such as:
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- recurrent infections
- cancers of the breast & ovaries
- non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
From a Western Medicine viewpoint, the diagnosis can only be established by identifying uterine glandular cells outside the uterus in the pelvic cavity during pelvic surgery or laparoscopy.
Some medical experts believe that women can menstruate in a backwards direction, ie, instead of expelling the uterine lining/menstrual blood vaginally, it is pushed upwards from the uterus into the fallopian tubes into the pelvic cavity. This is termed “Retrograde Menstruation”. These cells from the uterine lining then respond during the monthly hormonal cycle and swell, slough, and bleed … but with nowhere to go.
” Endometriosis is an example of a ‘recurrent, bleeding, festering wound’ …. crying to be healed …. once and for all “–Dr Tom
Regardless of the cause, it is painful. In some women, the pain is mild and the diagnosis is only made during investigations for infertility. In most women, the investigation occurs after increasing pelvic and abdominal pain which began with the monthly cycle, then became ongoing.
In these cases, it is common for the woman to experience Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Irritable Bladder before, during, or after the onset of the Endometriosis. This supports the belief that the pathology extends from the reproductive organs to adjacent organs within the pelvis.
Standard Western Medical treatment consists of low-dose birth control pills, or hormonal manipulation to create a low-estrogen, progesterone -favored state to decrease the amount of hormones made by the ovaries. In extreme cases, the womb is removed (“hysterectomy”).
While these treatments can benefit pain, the suppression of estrogen can lead to bone loss, masculine facial hair, deepening of voice, weight gain, and acne.
With such a common condition world-wide, Traditional Chinese Medicine has scientificly compared herbal therapy & acupuncture to Traditional Western Medicine’s approach of hormonal manipulation.
TCM’s approach, although very individualized, focuses on the individual’s:
- metabolic state
- controlling or mitigating the source of chronic inflammation
- treating an often un-identifiable source of infection
Research findings support the ‘infection hypothesis’ showing higher numbers of E. Coli bacteria (a common colon bacteria) in menstrual blood and higher bacterial endotoxin levels in the menstrual fluid and the peritoneal fluid. This infection and inflammation can then slow cellular metabolism, compromising programed cell death (“apoptosis”). This leads to the ongoing suffering.
Additionally, women with endometriosis also experience a higher likelihood of:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Grave’s Disease of the thyroid
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis
This supports the Eastern concept that Endometriosis is a blood-immune system-nervous system-endocrine disorder. And, until the cause of the ongoing inflammation is healed, the disease will appear in other organs as ‘Auto-Immunity’.
Given the science of the West & East, given the severity spectrum of the condition, given that surgery often leaves the patient with on-going pain, we believe each woman deserves the right to the least invasive, most supportive approach which not only relieves pain, but heals the pelvis and the blood to lessen the likelihood of other auto-immune conditions listed above.