Endometriosis affects one in ten women in the United States, and approximately 50% of women with infertility have endometriosis.
During a normal menstrual cycle, the lining inside the uterus is shed. In a woman with endometriosis, some of the endometrial cells implant outside of the uterus, which causes scarring and can lead to symptoms and complications with fertility. Symptoms can vary from none at all to painful periods and even chronic pelvic pain.
Diagnosing endometriosis can be vital to your pregnancy success. The only way to confirm endometriosis is through a laparoscopy (a small camera that goes in through the navel to look at your abdominal cavity), but there are lots of ways to start working on symptoms that may be associated with this while you're ruling out endometriosis.
In Chinese, endometriosis is called neiyi, meaning internal lump, and in Chinese medicine, we call the symptoms of endometriosis "Blood Stagnation," which encompasses the idea of excess tissue, pain and inflammation associated with endometriosis.
Acupuncture can effectively work to alleviate this pain by mediating the central nervous system and through stimulating the release of neurotransmitters. Acupuncture also increases blood circulation to the uterus so helps promote the shedding of extra endometrial tissue and contributes to reducing inflammation.
High levels of prostaglandins can also be produced in response to the inflammation that endometriosis causes. So, you can help your body respond to the inflammation by incorporating foods that stimulate healthy prostaglandins such as oily fish including sardines and mackerel, walnut oil, pumpkin seeds and dark, leafy green veggies.
Endometriosis is estrogen sensitive tissue. So, you can work through nutrition and your environmental factors to minimize your exposure to excess estrogens.
You can incorporate foods that are shown to modulate estrogen levels such as mustard greens, cabbage, broccoli and dark, leafy green vegetables and eliminate caffeine - researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, women who have two or more cups of coffee or four cans of caffeinated soda per day were found to be twice as likely to develop endometriosis.
Additionally, refer to this previous post on environmental estrogens (xenoestrogens) to learn how to minimize your environmental exposure to unnecessary estrogen:
Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2010 Nov;153(1):90-3. Is acupuncture in addition to conventional medicine effective as pain treatment for endometriosis? A randomised controlled cross-over trial. Rubi-Klein K1, Kucera-Sliutz E, Nissel H, Bijak M, Stockenhuber D, Fink M, Wolkenstein E.
J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2008 Oct;21(5):247-57. Japanese-style acupuncture for endometriosis-related pelvic pain in adolescents and young women: results of a randomized sham-controlled trial.
Wayne PM1, Kerr CE, Schnyer RN, Legedza AT, Savetsky-German J, Shields MH, Buring JE, Davis RB, Conboy LA, Highfield E, Parton B, Thomas P, Laufer MR. Grodstein F, Goldman MB, Ryan L, Cramer DW. Relation of female infertility to consumption of caffeinated beverages. Am J Epidemiol. 1993;137:1353-1360.