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Endometriosis - So much more than a painful period!

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

What is Endo?

Endometriosis is a chronic condition where cells similar to those lining the uterus (endometrium) are found outside the uterus, including areas like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, peritoneum, and bowels. In some rare cases, this tissue can even be found in distant locations like the lungs and eyes. This tissue responds to female sex hormones, leading to monthly bleeding, inflammation, and scarring. Unfortunately, the scarring forms in abnormal patterns, adhering to nearby organs, muscles, and fascia, causing significant pain and discomfort.

Around 10% of women of reproductive age are estimated to be affected by endometriosis. The symptoms can vary widely, with some experiencing little or no pain, while others suffer from chronic pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, painful periods, painful intercourse, lower back, hip, and groin pain, irritable bowel syndrome, infertility, and lethargy. Interestingly, the extent of endometriosis does not always correlate with the level of pain experienced. People with minimal endometriosis can have severe pain, while those with extensive endometriosis may have minimal symptoms.

For effective management of endometriosis, a multidisciplinary approach involving various healthcare practitioners is recommended. This may include gynecologists, general practitioners, osteopaths (both pelvic health trained and general), naturopaths, acupuncturists, professionals in yoga and mindfulness, and pain management specialists. Having a supportive and understanding team is essential, given the complex nature of the illness and its impact on both the body and emotions.

How can Osteopaths help with Endometriosis?

We can play a significant role in assisting women with chronic pelvic pain associated with endometriosis. Individualized approaches are necessary, as each person's experience with endometriosis varies.

Osteopaths focus on calming the nervous system, which can become sensitized and overactive in chronic conditions. Through a thorough case history and whole body assessment, osteopaths identify stress and strain affecting the central nervous system. Various techniques are employed, including cranial osteopathy, visceral manipulation, soft tissue and myofascial techniques, gentle joint manipulation, stretching, dry needling, trigger-point therapy, and articulation.

The goal is to relax the nervous system, reduce stress and strain in ligaments, fascia, and muscles, improve overall movement and function, and encourage the body's self-healing abilities.

Endometriosis being estrogen sensitive means estrogen dominance can worsen symptoms. Osteopaths consider factors like stress, gut health, and constipation, as they impact estrogen production and removal. Therefore, advice on gut health practices, stress management, and mindfulness techniques may be provided.

For pelvic floor osteopathy, internal assessments can be beneficial in alleviating chronic pelvic pain associated with endometriosis. Pelvic floor muscles tend to tighten in response to pain, contributing to discomfort and referred pain. Manual therapy techniques are used to desensitize and release tension in the pelvic floor muscles and fascia, addressing pain and discomfort during intercourse.

The management of endometriosis involves education on relaxed diaphragmatic breathing, optimal toilet habits, mindfulness, restorative yoga, gentle movement practices, Yin Yoga stretches, sleep patterns, and nutritional advice to reduce inflammation.

Overall, a holistic approach, individualized treatments, and support from a diverse healthcare team can make a significant difference in managing endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain.


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