There is so much more to endometriosis than one might think.
You’ve heard me say this repeatedly, but I don’t believe all of our symptoms are caused only by endometriosis. And I believe this is particularly true when it comes to gut health.
Unfortunately, because endometriosis is a chronic condition, we’re often led to believe that there’s nothing much we can do besides having repeated surgeries and resorting to hormone therapy and painkillers. But this prevents us from digging further into our symptoms, and we end up believing that they’re simply caused by endometriosis, so we’ll just have to live with them.
But this isn’t always true. Many of our endometriosis symptoms can be improved with holistic lifestyle changes. In fact, overlapping conditions often can be improved, and in some cases even eradicated, which can dramatically reduce the number of symptoms we’re experiencing.
Many people with endometriosis experience what is referred to as “endo belly.” Endo belly is bloating that often is so dramatic that we are mistaken for being six months pregnant. It is incredibly distressing for anyone struggling to conceive a child.
Additionally, many endo patients battle irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms including constipation, diarrhea, gas, acid reflux, and abdominal pain.
So, is it just endo, or is it something else, too?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system reacts so severely to gluten that it mistakenly attacks the body. Studies have shown an association between celiac disease and endometriosis, so it’s worth getting tested if you experience any IBS issues, such as cramping, bloating, or diarrhea.
The good news is that research also has found a significant reduction in endometriosis symptoms in 75% of participants when they removed gluten for 12 months.
Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) occurs when bacteria that should live in the large intestine get stuck in the small intestine. They feast on our food, releasing gases as they do, causing an array of problems including bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. They also impair our ability to absorb nutrients, so we end up struggling with fatigue and other issues. Left untreated, SIBO can cause full body immune reactions that worsen over time, such as achy joints, headaches, and histamine intolerance.
Candida is a condition strongly associated with pelvic pain. I see it in many of my clients with gut health problems. It also commonly accompanies SIBO, so if you can afford to do so, it could be worth testing for both.
Candida is a fungal infection responsible for thrush, an itchy vaginal condition that many women may have experienced once or twice. It’s also a gut health problem. If thrush or other signs of candida return again and again, you may have a chronic infection that needs addressing. Signs of candida include bloating, abdominal pain, and fatigue.
Leaky gut can result from all of the previously mentioned problems, as well as chronic stress and pain.
Think of your gut lining as a sausage skin that’s so small only nutrients can pass through. Now imagine someone takes that unfilled sausage skin and pokes several holes in it with a needle. Then they try to fill it with sausage meat (apologies for the off-putting analogy). Clearly, it will leak.
This is what happens with leaky gut. Stress, often caused by the distress of having endometriosis, damages the gut lining, and those gaps start widening. Gut health issues, intolerances, and allergies also can damage the gut lining.
On the other side of the gut lining is our immune system and bloodstream. The immune system is ready to attack any bad things that may pass through, while the bloodstream is ready to collect nutrients. The immune system doesn’t discriminate between an actual threat and food that’s passed through these widening gaps and that shouldn’t be there, so it attacks.
This attack creates inflammation, which then is caught up in the bloodstream and passes through the body. The inflammation creates symptoms such as pelvic pain and brain fog, while leaky gut can cause problems such as bloating and IBS.
To further understand the connection, watch this informative video by women’s health expert Dr. Jessica Drummond.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.