Is This The Endo Me?

I was 30 when I first heard that word, Endometriosis. I was having a routine smear test and the nurse said to me, “if you want children, you should start trying soon as it looks like you have a touch of endometriosis.” OK, I said.

I went home and thought nothing of it, this was just before the internet generation, so I didn’t really know how to research it other than to go to the library, it wasn’t as easy as it is now. I was also in a band and too busy having a good time, children were not on my agenda. How I wish it was easier back then to google the condition, to see what it was all about as my doctor had no useful advice for heavy painful periods and endometriosis symptoms, he said it was normal for some women to get painful periods and offered me the contraceptive pill when I was 16. I had been taking it for 14 years, but what happens when you want to stop taking it?

This common, painful inflammatory condition affects 1 in 10 women which means 178 million women all over the world suffer with it.

The endometriosis word came back into my life at 34, I stopped taking the contraceptive pill as I wanted to try for a child with my partner, soon after stopping the pill, I developed severe pains in my tummy, a scan on my pelvic area revealed two big ovarian cysts measuring 8cm each, called ‘chocolate cysts’ as they were filled with old blood, yuk. This was when I realised the severity of the condition and how much it was going to affect my life in more ways than one.

I’d always suffered from painful and heavy periods but just thought they were normal and that every woman goes through the same torture each month. However, when I came off the pill I was older and wiser, the symptoms and consequences of my symptoms which caused low B12, anemia and infertility meant that I needed to try to find ways to heal myself through diet and lifestyle choices and I knew there would be no short cuts.

As I have knowingly lived with this condition for 10 years now, I have grown to understand what makes it worse and what eases the symptoms. I have learned that I also need to make peace with my uterus, so instead of calling my period “a b*tch of a period” which I did every month for the past 20 years, I now send it loving thoughts, which isn’t easy to do when you are in excruciating pain.

Here are just some of the alternative methods, and products that I find have really helped my endo condition so far that you might not have discovered already;

  • Castor Oil Packs – This was a big game changer for me. Castor oil helps to bring circulation to your uterus and help bring in new fresh oxygenated blood which is what you want for a healthy uterus. Check out this video I found on how to do a Castor Oil Pack, I find the Pukka Castor Oil brand a really nice organic brand which is cheap and easy to find in most health shops or on Amazon. I found it really helped me to relax too as you cannot do anything for 45 mins to 1 hour so just lie down and listen to meditative music or whatever you find relaxes you.
  • Magnesium Spray – Apparently many women with Endometriosis lack magnesium so it’s a good one to have in your armour, it helps to relax your muscles which helps ease cramps. I found this really helpful to spray at night as it also promotes restful sleep. My favourite is by Kiki Health.
  • Clary Sage – Clary Sage oil contains natural phytoestrogens from plants and I was a little dubious at first as estrogen is usually a no-no with this condition, but apparently, good estrogen is ok just the bad ones like xenoestrogens from toxins and plastics are the bad guys. I found the oil really helped my pains if I put the oil on my tummy and then had a hot water bottle on top.
  • Supplements – If you haven’t tried ‘Endo Complex‘ yet, Its a food grown natural supplement from Wild Nutrition which provides all the right nutrients to help ease the complex endometriosis condition. I find it works really well with their ‘Methyl Connect’ supplements too which help your body to absorb folate and B12. Methylation is a biochemical process involved in almost all of your body’s functions. It controls everything from your stress response and how your body makes energy from food to your brain chemistry and detoxification.
  • Another supplement I also find useful which I formulated is ‘Woman’ by We+People, its an organic natural superfood supplement which contains maca root to help balance hormones, ginger to help fight inflammation and also a prebiotic which promotes a healthy gut and immune system. All required in abundance to tackle this often debilitating condition.
  • Ashwagandha – One of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing, has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions including stress and anxiety. This one is a new one for me as I have been researching the connection between stress and endometriosis recently as I personally suffer a lot with anxiety. So it turns out stress really affects our adrenal function and it’s our adrenals which play a huge role in keeping our hormones balanced, so it’s really important to keep them calm. I find Ashwagandha has totally stopped me from waking up with anxiety caused by high cortisol levels that peak in the morning. My favourite is the Organic India brand.
  • Fibre – I know this sounds totally crazy but after 10 years of having this disease, I have only just worked out how important fibre is. I mean, it took a herbalist to tell me that I should buy a fibre powder. I added a spoonful to my smoothies and started to go to the toilet twice a day instead of once and almost immediately it solved my constipation issues which I didn’t realise were related to my endo. It helped me to expel the excess estrogen and toxins which were clogging up my system. Be careful with it though as it does make you dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water. It’s better to get your fibre from food but I did use Lepricol which I found good to get me started and it also includes digestive enzymes and probiotics.
  • Tulsi Tea (Holy Basil) – This is a tea that I find really good for keeping my adrenals calm and there are other great teas too which are supposed to help reduce endometriosis and fibroids such as green tea which is full of antioxidants. I use the Pukka Tea variety.

Since I’ve gained a little more knowledge and insight into this condition and through research and trial and error, I am now mostly pain-free. I do have an endometrial polyp which has shrunk in size so this has made me more determined than ever to get my reproductive health back. When I stick to my well-balanced whole foods diet, get plenty of exercise and take supporting supplements, I manage pretty well. Now all I need is to get my fertility back. But at 44 I know that I am wishful thinking. If you think you have endometriosis don’t leave it until its too late to take control and get to know this condition so you can manage the symptoms and get on with enjoying your life.

There are lots of support groups and awareness of this condition out there nowadays so don’t suffer alone. Try ‘This Endo Life’ for a great blog and website dedicated to living and thriving with this condition. Also, check out UK charity group https://www.endometriosis-uk.org which organises several meetups and events throughout the year.

Anxiety Blues

Have you ever woken up with butterflies in your tummy and thought, why? I have nothing to worry about so why am I feeling so nervous?

I have suffered for many years with this very problem and I didn’t know why. I was basically stuck in these anxious feelings which were worse in the mornings when I woke up, apparently, this is because a stress hormone called cortisol is highest in the morning. Cortisol helps your body respond to stress and regulates blood sugar levels.

I had a period in my life where I went through a lot of turmoil and it all seemed to happen within a few years. My mother had not one, but two serious illnesses that nearly killed her, I then went through a really traumatic break up with my partner and by this time I was emotional, mentally and physically wrecked.

My body was on the brink and my adrenal glands were exhausted, I had brain fog, tingling in my legs, I thought I had MS, one side of my body felt numb, I was sure that I had a serious disease in my body.

My doctor said ” I believe all your symptoms are from anxiety”

As I tried to move on from all the stress, I got recurring cystitis, my body was so inflamed, I was given antibiotic after antibiotic and I just thought to myself, I can’t keep living like this.

I started to try to heal myself, I went to see naturopaths and acupuncturists, homeopaths and herbalists. I was quite dizzy and confused by it all, I studied my conditions on the internet, I couldn’t shake the anxiety, no matter what I tried.

It was a slow process but I followed diets to improve my adrenal function and support my liver and I took herbs such as Ashwagandha which really worked. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen which supports the adrenal glands by promoting homeostasis in the body. Not only does it calm down the body and our mental processes, it helps promote better sleep, which in turn supports the adrenals and promotes better thyroid health which is also closely linked to stress.

I found Yoga with Adrienne helped a lot and I meditated for at least 5 minutes every evening before bed just to calm my mind. I also drank relaxing herbal teas such as Tulsi tea or Camomile and tried supplementing with Ashwagandha. I also supported my health with reflexology and did regular exercise as this helped me to sweat out any toxins that were accumulating in my body. I also found the steam room and sauna great for this.

Eventually, you will start to see an improvement in your mental health and your stress levels will alleviate. You will still get days when you are anxious but you will learn how to let it go, its all about letting it go and not getting stuck in that anxious mindset.

What caused it in the first place?

We naturally have a stress hormone called adrenalin which kicks in to warn us of danger, from the days when we had to run from our predators. Nowadays it is more from our modern life stresses such as our boss or relationships and other triggers. The fight or flight response gets stuck and this is when our body finds it hard to cope. Its literally taken me 2 years to actually feel better and I still have bad days, the slightest stressful thing can throw me into an anxious state. The time it takes will be different for everyone but I am proof that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.