In this article we will cover the main ways your FUTURE WOMAN practitioner will approach your endometriosis treatment. We look at how your practitioner will address both the symptoms and key drivers of endometriosis as well.
Traditionally, endometriosis treatment in the UK via a GP centres around using the oral contraceptive pill and possibly surgery. At FUTURE WOMAN we opt for a more natural and personalised approach to your endometriosis treatment. This includes testing to identify the key drivers of your endometriosis, and then preparing a personalised protocol to reduce the proliferation of endometriosis and your symptoms.
Let’s start with a reminder about what endometriosis is.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent inflammatory and immune disease, resulting in growth of endometrial-like tissue outside of the uterus. It impacts about 10% of women in their reproductive years. Common symptoms of endometriosis include extreme pelvic pain, heavy periods and infertility.
What causes endometriosis?
There is a lot of ongoing research attempting to identify the root cause of endometriosis and thereby inform endometriosis treatment. However, there is still more work and funding needed in this area. Current theories as to why endometriosis develops include:
- Retrograde menstruation
It is important to note that endometriosis is an immune and inflammatory disease that is influenced by estrogen, but not caused by estrogen. Therefore it is not technically a hormonal condition.
The typical GP approach to Endometriosis Treatment
Let’s start with a quick summary of how a GP typically addresses endometriosis treatment within the NHS.
The most common medication for endometriosis treatment is the combined oral contraceptive pill or the progestogen only pill. Although the OCP can reduce bleeding, it does not target the root causes or drivers of endometriosis. Many women find they still experience the same symptoms, or a worsening of symptoms due to the lack of progesterone. Remember, while endometriosis is not a hormonal disease it is still influenced by estrogen. Progesterone has a counterbalancing effect on estrogen, lightening the uterine lining, while estrogen thickens it.
The other treatment option for some women with endometriosis is surgery. A laparoscopy can be used both for diagnosis and treatment. Any endometrial deposits are removed during surgery. Sometimes areas of inflammation that have caused the organs to stick together, known as adhesions, can also be found during a laparoscopy and removed during the procedure. Endometriotic cysts on the ovary can also be removed by surgery.
Finally, more drastic surgery such as a hysterectomy may be performed for endometriosis.
The FUTURE WOMAN approach to endometriosis treatment
At FUTURE WOMAN, when it comes to endometriosis treatment, we’re interested in getting to the root cause and providing a personalised health plan. We start by identifying and then addressing the key drivers to alleviate your endometriosis symptoms.
Your practitioner will begin by gathering detailed information about your symptoms and habits, and then focusing on these key areas for treatment:
- Heal the gut.
- Reduce inflammation and normalise immune function.
- Address hormone imbalances through testing and supplementation.
- Address other diet and lifestyle factors.
So what are some ways to achieve these goals?
Please remember that the below is not medical advice and each person will need a different, tailored approach to their endometriosis treatment. Therefore please do not place yourself on any supplements without a practitioner’s advice first.
Step 1: Test your hormones
The first step that we recommend is testing your hormones using a comprehensive at-home hormone test, so that we have a clear picture of exactly what may be contributing to your symptoms. We recommend our FUTURE WOMAN Advanced Hormone Test as it includes markers for gut health, inflammation and stress in addition to your main reproductive hormones. This helps your practitioner to assess some of the common drivers and influences of endometriosis including estrogen and its metabolites, progesterone, inflammation, gut dysbiosis and stress.
Step 2: Having a 1:1 consultation with a practitioner
Once you have your results and personalised report, we recommend a 1:1 consultation with one of our women’s health experts. This is because endometriosis is more complex and has many more driving factors than just hormones. Therefore it is important that a practitioner can work with you to determine what else may be contributing. From there, they can create a more detailed and comprehensive health plan for you to address these other drivers.
Examples of what your practitioner may suggest for endometriosis treatment
support Gut healing and repair
Often the first aspect to address with endometriosis treatment is the gut. This is because lipopolysaccharides (or LPS) are toxins produced by the wrong kind of bacteria in the gut. This can promote inflammatory disease and endometriosis.
In addition, intestinal permeability of the gut lining can let toxins (including LPS) and larger food particles into the bloodstream which can activate the immune system and worsen inflammation. This in turn can worsen endometriosis.
It’s important to note that 70% of our immune system resides in the gut. So anything that upsets your digestion (such as food sensitivities, alcohol and stress) will upset your immune system and lead to inflammation. Endometriosis can also cause digestive problems so it’s often a catch-22 situation.
One of the most common ways a practitioner will heal your gut is through diet changes and specific supplementation containing the amino acid glutamine. A practitioner is also likely to rebalance the gut bacteria and address possible overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria.
Reduce inflammation and support the immune system
As inflammation and immune dysregulation are the biggest drivers of endometriosis it is vital to reduce overall inflammation in the body. We look to support both the innate and adaptive immune systems. One of the best ways to do both of these things is to heal the gut as mentioned above.
Here are some other examples of how a practitioner may work with you to reduce inflammation and support the immune system:
Your practitioner will likely recommend that you remove dairy for three months – specifically A1 casein dairy found in cow’s dairy.
A1 casein is known to stimulate mast cells (linked to histamine) and increase overall inflammation and oxidative stress. It also stimulates inflammatory cytokines. This results in heavier and more painful periods which can worsen the symptoms and even the proliferation of endometriosis.
It is common for a practitioner to suggest going gluten-free for endometriosis. This is because gluten can be an immune disrupting protein which can trigger the proliferation and growth of endometriosis. In fact there is emerging research suggesting that many women with endometriosis are also more likely to contain the gene for celiacs disease. In this study 75% of those suffering from endometriosis improved after going gluten free for 12 months.
Supplement with berberine
Berberine is a supplement that help to reduce the LPS toxins that are found in women with endometriosis. Therefore this supplement can help reduce one of the main drivers of endometriosis. Berberine can also reduce inflammation and can support the reduction of intestinal permeability that also contributes to endometriosis. This is just one of the supplements that a practitioner may suggest to help reduce the immune and inflammatory aspect of endometriosis.
Address hormone imbalances
- Estrogen: How a practitioner will address your estrogen depends on your individual test results. It may be important for you to lower your overall estrogen out of circulation or it may be important to support your phase 1 detoxification of estrogen. Your test results may also indicate the need to support in phase 2 estrogen detoxification by supporting methylation. The approach of your practitioner will depend on your test results. Read more about estrogen detoxification.
- Progesterone: Your practitioner may need to support your progesterone levels and support your ovulation in order to support the ratio between estrogen and progesterone. Progesterone helps to lighten the endometrial lining and lighten periods, therefore it is important in managing the symptoms of endometriosis. In some cases a practitioner may suggest you talk to your GP about using cyclical progesterone in order to help address the symptoms and also the immune component of endometriosis too.
In summary these are just a few of the ways our women’s health experts will be able to support you with your endometriosis treatment. If you are interested in finding out more about how a practitioner can support you through your endometriosis journey then feel free to book here for your FREE 15 minute consultation.