Endometriosis is an extremely challenging disease. When women with endometriosis are trying to become pregnant, treatment options are particularly limited.
The cause of endometriosis is unknown, although many theories have been proposed. There is a theory that what causes endometriosis is retrograde menstrual flow in which tissue shed during the period flows into the pelvis. Another credible theory involves a genetic predisposition influenced by hormones or other signals that cause a reaction of the cells lining the pelvis, within the ovary or elsewhere to differentiate into tissue that looks and acts like endometrium. Endometriosis is not a sexually transmitted disease nor is it caused by an infection.
Over time the growth of implants, repeated internal bleeding, and inflammation can cause adhesions (scar tissue) to develop.
Endometriosis can adhere to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder, ligaments, or other areas of the abdominal cavity. Rarely, endometrial cells attach to other areas of the body, including the lungs and nasal cavity. If adhesions develop, this can cause internal organs to become attached to other internal parts of the body and can even cause the displacement of organs and other tissues.
Treatment options for endometriosis and infertility
Doctors usually suggest laparoscopic or abdominal surgery to remove endometrial lesions and areas damaged by scar tissue and to remove adhesions when it is possible. The best surgical option today for endometriosis is the excision surgical technique. Excision surgery aims to remove the roots of the disease. In the case of severe endometriosis, the doctor may suggest a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes) for women who do not wish to become pregnant.
Hormonal and pain medications
Doctors may prescribe hormonal medications. The goal is to stop the menstrual cycle and prevent further growth of endometrial tissues. This can also help reduce pain. If pain is still present, they may prescribe pain medications. Hormonal medications alter the natural menstrual cycle and can prevent pregnancy. They all come with a variety of side effects. The medications are not always effective, and once the medications are stopped, the endometriosis can return or spread further. Most often, surgical options can be combined with natural therapies.
Natural therapies for endometriosis infertility
Lifestyle changes are some of the most effective ways to help with endometriosis. This would be changing your diet, clearing old tissue and congestion, balancing your hormones, and avoiding certain pollutants. The overall goal is to support proper function and health of the endometrium, endocrine and immune systems.
Prepare your body with a cleanse
A fertility-specific cleanse is an important first step if you are experiencing endometriosis. Cleansing using specific herbs helps the body clear out old tissue, increase circulation in the reproductive system, support hormonal balance, and reduce inflammation and pain caused by endometriosis. There is a correlation between the body’s inability to remove excess toxins and waste in women with endometriosis.
A fertility cleanse also helps the liver remove excess estrogen from your system.
Eat a nutrient-dense fertility diet
For starters, you’ll want to build a healthy foundation for your fertility by creating a baby-friendly body. Dietary changes specific to endometriosis are important. There are several types of foods that you may want to avoid because they have been associated with making endometriosis worse. Certain foods can trigger flares, promote inflammation, or “congest” the body, fueling the congestive nature of endometriosis, while other foods can increase hormonal imbalance.
Avoid Exposure to Environmental Toxins
We have learned that exposure to certain environmental toxins can contribute to the development of endometriosis or make it worse. Some toxins are known to be endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors, also known as xenohormones, are man-made chemicals. These chemicals have the ability to interfere with the natural functions and development of our bodies. The main function of the endocrine system is to serve as our body’s message center. The hormones transmit messages, and the endocrine system coordinates the hormones.
Systemic Enzyme Therapy
Systemic enzyme therapy is one of the most effective natural therapies to help the body deal with endometriosis. Specific systemic enzymes can help reduce the “pelvic stagnation” caused by endometriosis. How do they do this? Systemic enzymes help with endometriosis by supporting the body’s natural ability to:
reduce inflammation and pain,
break down fibrin, the substance that makes up scar tissue and adhesion
increase circulation to the reproductive organs
mediate the immune system response,
Systemic enzyme therapy can help reduce the inflammation caused by scar tissue irritating the surrounding organs and can reduce the pain that sometimes comes from endometriosis.
Support herbs and supplements for hormonal balance and creating a healthy endometrium.
Herbs and supplements can be very helpful for women with endometriosis. Many of these natural therapies help the body eliminate excess hormones, endometrial tissue, and inflammation, while promoting the reduction of endometrial growth.
An important part of increasing egg health and preparing the uterine lining is taking a whole-foods multivitamin that contains all the essential nutrients for optimal fertility health. Making sure that your body has all the nutrients it needs is much easier when you are taking a multivitamin.
- Pycnogenol is a powerful antioxidant that comes from the bark of the pine tree, Pinus maritima . It has been shown to help women with endometriosis, improve egg health, and increase sperm health. Antioxidants are important for restoring and protecting cellular health and DNA.
- Bee propolis is a resinous mixture of tree sap, tree buds, tree leaves, and other botanical sources that bees make to seal small openings in their hives.
One study showed that 60% of women with endometriosis-related infertility who took 500mg of bee propolis twice a day for 9 months became pregnant, as opposed to 20% in the placebo group. The pain of endometriosis, scar tissue, and adhesion formation are believed to be triggered by inflammatory responses in the body. Bee propolis has been shown to be extremely anti-inflammatory, which may help reduce the inflammation associated with endometriosis. Bee propolis may also contain immunomodulatory properties that may be beneficial for fertility problems related to autoimmune diseases.
- Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory, anti-metastatic, antioxidant, healing, hypoglycemic, antimicrobial, antitumor, antimutagenic, and hormone regulating properties have been reported by numerous in vitro and vivo studies.
Curcumin appeared to improve folliculogenesis in endometriosis, also leading to reduced estrogen production, inhibiting the development of endometriosis.
Preventing inflammation in a woman’s body is essential to improving fertility.
So while there are foods that you should eat plenty of to help with this, there are also some foods that you should minimize or avoid.
Sugar and processed foods should be excluded as these significantly increase inflammation in your body, so minimizing your intake can improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Trans fats which are found in foods such as fast food and fried foods, these fats have been shown to increase the risk and severity of endometriosis.
Prioritize nutritious, whole foods and a healthy, active lifestyle, and consider limiting inflammatory and processed foods. Remember, although endometriosis has been associated with an increased risk of infertility, these are simple things you can do to help yourself and improve your chances of getting pregnant and make a difference in your life.