Sara Lopez had no idea what her doctor was talking about when she diagnosed her with adenomyosis. Since then, however, she has become a certified health coach, and specialises in this painful condition. Read on for her eight best secrets for adeno relief.
– BY SARA LOPEZ –
Eight years ago, when the doctor looked at my ultrasound, said I had a ‘bulky uterus’ and diagnosed me with adenomyosis, I had no idea what she was talking about. I was left without an explanation on what it was, or how I could cope with the condition. I was, however, relieved; there was finally a name for the heavy bleeding, passing out in the bathroom from severe pelvic pain and huge belly I had. Maybe I could stop looking 4 months pregnant when in fact, I wasn’t.
I learned that the only ‘cure’ for adenomyosis is a hysterectomy. I was desperate for relief, yet I associated a hysterectomy with giving up the fight to love my beautiful but scarred uterus. Through holistic hormone balancing, my cramps are now mild. On top of this, I have a lot of energy, my ‘adeno belly’ is gone and I sleep well.
What is adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis is a pelvic condition where the endometrial layer of the uterus grows into the muscular, myometrial layer (this is what contracts when you have menstrual cramps). Estradiol (estrogen) stimulates adenomyosis to grow. Endometriosis is a disorder where tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus.
What causes adenomyosis?
It is unknown what causes adenomyosis exactly, however, current research studies have given us a better idea about likely causes. A few of which could be multiple pregnancies, C-sections, or pelvic surgery that injures and inflames the tissues. Inflammation increases proinflammatory cytokines (these regulate responses to infection, immunity, and inflammation) and allows tissue from the endometrium to get into the myometrial layer of the uterus.
Progesterone resistance in the endometrium, and over stimulation of estrogen (estrogen dominance) can allow tissue to migrate into the myometrium, appearing to cause adenomyosis. According to adenomyosis researcher and well known author Maria Yaeger, there are many probable causes of adenomyosis including autoimmune factors, toxin exposure and abnormal uterine contractions, amongst others.
Recent research revealed that adenomyosis is associated with increased platelet activation and hypercoagulation. Platelets in our blood stop bleeding by clotting blood vessel injuries. Inflammation and coagulation of our blood are two systems that work together. Inflammation activates coagulation and coagulation modulates inflammation.
What are the symptoms?
Adenomyosis can cause no symptoms at all in some women. Other women could experience heavy bleeding (menorrhagia), severe pelvic pain (dysmenorrhea), spotting, enlarged ‘bulky’ uterus (e.g. adeno belly), frequent urination, bowel upset and bowel pain, and even infertility.
Does it affect the whole body or just the uterus?
Adenomyosis is a condition that can have an effect on the whole body. Hysterectomy stops the heavy bleeding associated with the condition and decreases pelvic pain, however it will not fix the hormone imbalance, autoimmune reactions, and gut issues related to the condition.
When considering any pelvic surgery for adenomyosis, make sure to ask your medical team and do your own research on the long-term side effects. The United States has the highest rate of hysterectomies in the world and can often be performed even though not medically necessary. Hysterectomies for the severe heavy bleeding and pain from adenomyosis are medically justified. Many women find relief from heavy bleeding by increasing progesterone boosting foods, using natural progesterone cream, or natural progesterone capsules prescribed by a doctor, on days 14-28 of their cycle.
Most women who have had a partial or complete hysterectomy experience a decrease in progesterone levels and may experience depression, sleep problems, anxiety and weight gain due to hormone imbalance. Eating foods that promote optimal progesterone levels and/or supplementing with natural progesterone post hysterectomy can help ease these symptoms.
8 Best Secrets for Natural Adeno Relief:
First, it is essential to get to the bottom of the autoimmune and inflammatory responses associated with adeno. Adeno shows up in the uterus but it is driven by other factors. It can be overwhelming to decide what to do. But take note: you can have control over improving your symptoms.
- Reduce inflammation
Women with adenomyosis are often deficient in vitamin A and research shows high doses of this essential supplement can reduce heavy bleeding. Cod liver fish oil is a great source of natural vitamin A and is safe, while a synthetic high dose of vitamin A can be toxic. It is almost impossible to find true high quality fish oil; so do your research before buying.
Anti- inflammatory goodies like ginger, tumeric, enzymes that break up excess tissue, and Boswellia can also have a positive effect. Clinical studies from 2018 found that Boswellia, or Indian Frankincense, reduces heavy menstrual bleeding and inhibits an enzyme called 5-lipoxygenase which causes chronic inflammation.
- Say goodbye to toxins
Cleansing our pelvic area and liver of hormone disrupting toxins increases blood flow to the area and womb. It also supports our liver in its natural job of getting rid of toxins and excess estrogen. Our vaginal tissue is highly absorbent, and using tampons or pads that are not organic could cause chemicals and toxins to be absorbed into our pelvic area. This could increase the effect of estrogen dominance. Tip: use organic tampons and pads!
Did you know that many beauty care products, cleaners, and other personal products contain chemicals that could disrupt your hormones? Start by taking a look at the ingredients and labels on your products and cleaners. Take baby steps to replace ones containing toxins with natural ones. Some toxic ingredients to watch out for are: phenoxyethanol (toxic to our skin and immune system- often used as a preservative in ‘natural’ products), parabens (found in sunscreens), glyphosate (increases risk of many types of cancer), BHA (a food preservative), phthalates (plasticizers), and PCBs (from plastics).
- Diet Makeover
Studies show that diets with a lot of processed foods are very high in omega 6 fatty acids compared to omega 3 fatty acids. Too much omega 6 can increase inflammation. To overcome this, start by eating more healthy fats like avocados, tuna, nuts, and salmon to help produce enough of the right hormones.
If you eat dairy produced from cows, why not think about switching to alternative options such as milk from sheep or goats. While A1 dairy increases inflammation, research shows A2 dairy may not cause inflammation or digestive upset. Who can pass up goat cheese?
- Get your pelvic floor in tip-top shape with a pelvic PT
If you have to pee at all during the night and are under 60 years old, or if you have any pain with sex, go see a Pelvic Physical Therapist. We’ve all heard of doing Kegels to strengthen our pelvic muscles, but actually most women with adeno or endo need to release certain areas of their pelvic muscles. A pelvic PT can help you learn how to do this safely at home, which can significantly lower pelvic pain and reduce heavy bleeding. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist for more information.
- Improve your Gut Health
Bad bacteria in our gut could cause toxins from our GI tract to leak out into our body and wreak havoc on our immune system. When these endotoxins combine with estrogen, make pelvic pain and adenomyosis could worsen.
Working with a functional medicine doctor and health coach to check for low stomach acid is also key to improving digestion. Low stomach acid causes irritable bowels, inability to digest protein, and adrenal dysfunction; it is extremely common as we get older. Ways to increase stomach acid include reducing sugar, adding fermented food and drinks, taking digestive enzymes before meals, and eliminating processed foods.
- Mayan Abdominal Massage
Mayan abdominal massage could help to strengthen and tone the uterus, improving blood flow to your pelvis, and helping to place the uterus back to its proper position. It is important whether you’ve had a hysterectomy or still have your uterus. Women with adeno are more prone to uterine polyps and fibroids and it has been suggested that this massage helps to prevent them. There are Mayan Abdominal Massage practitioners all over the world, and they can show you how to do the massage yourself at home. For women who’ve had a hysterectomy, this massage improves circulation around the scar, preventing scar tissue from forming in the pelvis.
- Balance your hormones
According to the latest research, adenomyosis is estrogen dependent, like endometriosis. Balancing your ratio of estrogen to progesterone as well as other hormones is necessary to achieve improvement of adenomyosis symptoms. Testing sex hormones (e.g. estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) through blood or saliva may not be accurate due to changing levels throughout the day.
The so called DUTCH Test is an extremely accurate test because it measures your hormone levels throughout the day and gives an accurate read on free and available hormones, including those responsible for adrenal functioning. You do the test at home by simply peeing on strips and sending them in to a laboratory. If your levels are off, working with both a functional medicine doctor and a health coach could be key to rebalancing your hormones.
- Fix your adrenals!
Our adrenals produce various hormones that are essential for our bodies. When the brain sends a message to the body to produce stress hormones we enter the ‘fight or flight’ mode. This could cause our digestion and reproductive functions to slow down. Being in a constant state of stress could lead to ill effects on our bodies.
In our modern culture, there is a lot of suggestion towards women to be Superwoman; to achieve everything, be everything and to do this all perfectly. It is essential to slow down, listen to our bodies, say ‘no’ to unnecessary obligations and to delegate tasks in order to reduce our stress levels. Interestingly, changing our mindsets and thinking patterns could have a positive effect on our hormone levels. Thinking positively and changing our minds about stressful situations (seeing them as challenges, for example) could have a beneficial effect on our bodies.
About the author
This guest blog is written by Sara Lopez (USA). She is a Certified Hormone Specialist and Adenomyosis & Endometriosis Health Coach. Through Overhaul your Adenomyosis/Endometriosis Coaching, she creates a safe space for women to find relief from heavy periods and transform their hormones. You can find Sara on Facebook and Instagram.
Editorial note: Period! Magazine is a journalistic platform and is NOT intended as a substitute for the advice of medical practitioners. If you’re suffering from any medical complaints, always visit your doctor or GP. Research references regarding this guest blog can be found here.
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