Things I wish I’d known about endometriosis
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and is always a time for me to reflect on my own endo journey and my experience of working with clients with endo and share some of the things we all wish we’d known earlier.
- Don’t be pushed into treatment that doesn’t feel right for you
When I was diagnosed with endometriosis I was told that hormone treatment was my only option. Given I’d never got on with the pill, the thought of stronger hormone treatment felt really scary and deep down I just didn’t feel comfortable with it. That’s when I decided to look into alternative therapies and try and find another way of managing this condition and not take the hormone treatment. Some of my family and friends thought I was crazy to not take the treatment when I was so poorly, but you have to do what feels right for you. If you are given an option of drugs or surgery, do your research, talk to others with endometriosis through support groups before making your decision.
2. Don’t feel stuck if hormone treatment doesn’t work for you – there are other options
For some people hormone treatment can work well and make a massive difference to symptoms. But if you’ve been told hormone treatment is the only option for you, but then find that either it doesn’t help or you get too many side effects from it, then don’t feel stuck. There are other options you can try. You could ask for a different drug, or you could try an alternative therapy like nutritional therapy, acupuncture or homeopathy. None of us can guarantee results – either medical practitioners or alternative therapists, but if you try something different it might help manage your symptoms. And when you are feeling awful, even a small improvement in symptoms is worth it.
3. Diet changes can help manage endometriosis symptoms.
Diet is not going to cure your endometriosis – sadly nothing can do that. But it can be part of the picture in managing your symptoms, either as a stand alone therapy or alongside medication or surgery. Research has shown that diet can make a difference to levels of inflammation and pain in people with endometriosis. My own personal experience and from working with clients with endometriosis confirms that the food we eat really can have an impact on endometriosis symptoms.
4. If you want to start making diet changes then get some help to reduce the feelings of overwhelm
There is so much information out there now on endometriosis and diet it can be confusing to know where to start. This is on top of dealing with pain every day, feeling tired and hormonal, so you don’t want to make things any harder for you than they need to be. That’s why I recommend getting some help in the beginning with putting together a nutrition plan that is tailored to you and takes account of your food likes and dislikes and your lifestyle. Through a package of nutritional therapy sessions I can help you find a plan that feels manageable and give you plenty of support to put it into action.
5. You don’t have to make big changes all at once.
Sometimes the feeling of overwhelm puts people off trying nutritional therapy as they don’t have the energy to make lots of changes. However, it is often the small things that can make a big difference. Just making sure you are well hydrated every day, are getting plenty of rest and eating some more vegetables can sometimes be enough to start noticing changes. Start small and the changes and progress grow.
6. Work at your own pace
Don’t compare yourself to others or what you see on social media. You don’t have to go into this by making lots of sudden changes. My approach is to work at your pace and if that means just changing one thing at a time, that’s how we work. Often drastic changes are not sustainable, whereas slow gradual change is.
7. It takes time to get the body back in balance
Endometriosis is a whole body disease and often a number of systems in the body have got out of balance. This imbalance has often been building up over a long time – sometimes ten or twenty years. This means that it can take a long time to unpick some of these imbalances and start to reduce symptoms. For anything hormone related, I think you need to be making changes for at least three months to notice any difference, but initially it may only be slight improvements you notice. But keep going and over time things will gradually start to improve further. In my own endo journey, I only noticed I slight improvement in symptoms in three months, but that was enough to keep me going (and the thought of avoiding hormone drugs!). It was about a year in when I could say for sure I was heading in the right direction and even now my symptoms keep improving over time.
8. The path of progress is not always linear.
Sometimes people can start to notice improvements, but then have a set back and feel worse again. This happened to me so many times on my own endo journey and I used to get so disheartened. But this is quite normal when making changes, and part of the process of trying to rebalance the body. Some people notice if they are going through a stressful period this can flare symptoms up again. Just be kind to yourself in the flare ups and know they are not forever.
9. Don’t forget to work on lifestyle issues too.
You can get improvements with making changes to your diet and taking supplements, but you really need to be working on lifestyle issues too such as stress, sleep and exercise to make a long term difference to your symptoms. When I first saw a nutritional therapist I did the diet and supplement changes with military prevision, but I didn’t work on lifestyle issues. I got some improvements, but then things just plateaued and I couldn’t move forward. It was only when I started to work on lifestyle issues too that I really made improvements. Look out for my next blog on some of the lifestyle issues that helped my own endometriosis symptoms.
If you would like some help with getting a plan in place to manage your own endometriosis symptoms, then do book in for a free hormone health review to find out how nutritional therapy can help.
And if you’d like to learn more about the endometriosis diet and how to put it into practice then do join my talk on Saturday 25th March at 11am. Options to join online or at Fairhaven Wholefoods in Letchworth Garden City. More information and booking details here.