Update on Endometriosis

In early October 2005, a group of 700+ doctors and patients met at the Endometriosis Association’s 25th Anniversary Conference to share and learn all the latest about endometriosis (endo).  This is a common condition affecting at least 10% of women, though it often goes undiagnosed.  Too few practitioners have a thorough understanding of the disease, its presentations, related conditions, and appropriate treatment strategies.

Paradigm Shift

Along with lectures about the modern advances in drug therapy and surgical techniques, there was much discussion about a paradigm shift towards a more comprehensive view of endo.  It has long been thought of as simply a pelvic disorder characterized by endometrial growths outside of the uterus.  The growths are similar to the tissue that lines the inner uterus (endo metrium), and they grow and bleed with the menstrual cycle causing pain.  Too frequently, conventional treatments are unsuccessful or the side effects are unbearable.

Several non-pelvic aspects of the disease are now being recognized, such as disrupted hormone levels, altered immune function, and environmental exposure to hormone-like chemicals. This whole-body view broadens the picture of endo to include infertility,

fatigue, immune dysfunction, digestive problems, and allergies, as well as pelvic pain.

Other News

Endo is increasing in the teen population and is still found in women after a hysterectomy and even after menopause.  It was reported that genetic and environmental factors contribute to a 5-10% increased risk in women with close relatives with the disease.

The Role of Naturopathic Treatment

Long-term management of endo can be achieved through natural treatments, though many patients do best with a combination of surgery, drugs, and natural treatments.  Naturopathic medicine can help endo patients on many levels:

  • Hormone testing and support for ovarian, adrenal and thyroid
  • Immune system support, identifying allergens and treating underlying infections
  • Environmental toxin with anti-inflammatories, hydrotherapy, exercise
  • Pain reduction with anti-inflammation and balance blood sugars
  • Lifestyle management, stress reduction, sleep hygiene
  • Integrated body work for adhesions and mind-body awareness
  • Emotional support, listening, support groups
  • Referral to other experts and complementary therapies

Although endo remains a chronic disease without a simple cure, naturopathic treatment offers women the ability to manage the disease and improve their quality of life.

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