Being an October baby, I was one of the last to start my cycle at the end of year seven, and starting to feel a bit left out and curious as to this whole new experience my friends where talking about! I remember exactly the day I got it, I was so relieved, but this relief soon turned sour when month after month I started to experience debilitating pain and heavy bleeding.
Things got really bad when we where on summer holiday in Phillip Island. I remember my dad had to leave a day early to go back to work so it was just my mum, brother and myself for that last day. My brother and I where sharing a bunk bed and I recall waking up on the top bunk to what could only be described as something akin to a murder scene. I freaked out and scrambled down the bunk ladder into my mums room. She told me to lay down and kept on giving me towels to help stop the bleeding, but they would completely soak up in under a minute, I was hemorrhaging. So my mum made the call to take me to the hospital. They simply gave me some pills to stop the bleeding and told me I would have to take them every month. This was the start of my medicated journey, yet still did not get a diagnosis for another seven years.
The pills would help to control the bleeding, but I was meant to start taking them the day before I was due, the issue with that was that my cycle was so irregular I never knew when it was coming, so often I would still experience heavy bleeding on the first day until the tablets kicked in, which meant that my iron was often low and I was still experiencing awful pain. So back to the doctors, this time around 15, and I was advised to start taking the pill to suppress my period all together. I took the pill for a few years which stopped all of the Endo symptoms but kick started my migraines. I had to go off it eventually, feeling frustrated, my mum took me to see a Naturopath who taught me about diet, foods to consume and foods to avoid to regulate my hormones and reduce the pain. She also gave me nutritional supplements and herbs. This was a turning point for me and really helped to not only manage and treat my condition, but to feel like I was actually treating the root cause.
There must have been a time where I stopped taking my herbs because I remember all of the symptoms came back with full force. This was when I was 20 and so I went to see a specialist who performed a laproscopy and finally diagnosed me with Endometriosis. Endo is an inflammatory condition with estrogen excess which causes uterine lining to develop outside of the uterus and in the pelvic cavity, this is what causes the pain and heavy bleeding because each month it sheds, inflames and then heals, which can create scar tissue.
Knowing that my mother had a history of Endometriosis it wasn’t really a surprise, but the treatment options I was given shocked me. I had three options: Have surgery which could potentially puncture my bowel (my endo is located in the area between my uterus and bowel), go on Hormone Replacement Therapy (which would put me into early menopause) or do nothing. These where my three options. I left the room crying, feeling so overwhelmed and disempowered. I soon decided none of those options where good enough, and that’s when I began getting serious about taking my herbs and supplements and adjusting my diet as I knew that these things where not only giving me relief but treating the root cause.
I still today, 10 years later follow my Endo protocol and being a qualified Naturopath can implement it myself, tweaking and changing as I need to. This is what it involves:
- Balancing my oestrogen ratio with herbs such as Dong Quai and Peony, Dong Quai is also a blood tonic which helps to support women who are prone to anemia.
- Clear excess oestrogen from my body with liver herbs such as Milk Thistle, Turmeric, Rosemary, Schisandra and Dandelion Root
- Reduce inflammation with herbs such as Turmeric, Ginger and Licorice
- Relieve pelvic congestion with Calendula, Yarrow and Echinacea
- Avoid/Reduce pro inflammatory foods such as meat, milk, white flour and refined sugar (this is a tricky one because pms often gets you cravings this stuff but I know if I give in at the time of my period I suffer for it)
- Magnesium Powder for cramps, Iron for my blood and Zinc for healing tissues
- Anti inflammatory foods such as omega 3 rich avocado, hemp oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts, chia seeds, turmeric, ginger, green leafy veg, berries and plently of fruit, brassica veg, filtered water and herbal teas.
- Castor oil packs and magesnium salts for relieving pelvic congestion, improving circulation and drawing out toxins.
- At the time of my period I take cramp bark if I’m having a particulary crampy cycle (often I can draw this back to a stressful month or one where my diet has been a bit off), herbal teas such as ginger, turmeric and dandelion root, heat packs and magnesium.
I know this might look like a lot but it often only really involves a herbal mix, a couple of supplements and the rest is dietary/lifestyle. These natural treatments have been so wonderful for me and I’m so glad that I chose to not go down that medical path of surgery and medication but to treat my condition in a more holistic approach. Endo is so common, affecting a growing percentage of women. Because of my own journey with this condition I love to educate and treat women who are experiencing the same because I know it’s really hard to find answers in the medical world and get good support. If you are suffering from monthly period pain and heavy bleeding, please understand that it’s not normal, that going on medication to suppress your cycle is not treating it, and that there are other options!
If you would like more information please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you and help you take control of this condition with a natural approach just like I do!