Endometriosis: Auto-Immune link?

With an increase of women being diagnosed with endometriosis and more investigations into the treatment of the disease, the glaringly obvious question has to be asked – is endometriosis an autoimmune disease?

Previously, diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis have revolved around surgery and hormone suppression with the oral contraceptive pill or other drugs whereas now therapies are beginning to include anti-inflammatory and immune modulating treatments. Recently more studies are concluding that endometriosis fulfils most of the criteria for an autoimmune disease, including blood markers of inflammatory cytokines and tissue specific autoantibodies.

Further investigation has also shown that hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune diseases, allergies and asthma are all significantly more common in women with endometriosis than in women in the general population. The link between autoimmune disease and endometriosis is getting stronger; the greater question then moves to how to support it holistically? I tend to look at a broad systemic approach in my protocols, targeting inflammation and specific oestrogen clearance pathways.

Most endometrial tissue legion growths are wrapped around the fallopian tubes, ovaries, pouch of Douglas, large intestines and bladder, they can appear in any part of the body (including sinuses, oesophagus, lungs and even brain tissue).

For most individuals however, even getting diagnosed is a pain; sometimes it can take years to finally have the illness recognised. The delays can occur at an individual patient level and a medical level as both women and their doctors can normalise symptoms, since they can be suppressed through ‘easy’ hormone treatment (such as the pill), and non-discriminatory investigations are relied upon like abdominal and trans-vaginal ultrasounds – which do not confirm, or rule out, much of anything.

The only way of certain diagnosis is laparoscopic surgery and lots of patients will avoid doing the invasive procedure due to fear of the surgery, or fear of the diagnosis.

Individuals with chronic illness will mostly agree that getting a diagnosis helps them in a multitude of ways. Giving the disease a name and creating a dialogue and language so that they can communicate better with others about it, is usually well worth the struggle in getting the procedure done. Communicating that your period pain gives you ‘blackout drunk’ like sensations with wicked, contraction-like chest pain, will often lead to raised eyebrows and a friendly, one-up-man-ship game of “who knows someone with the worst period pain” at your workplace.

Early detection and treatment can empower women and promote better reproductive health and help to prevent infertility and chronic pain for sufferers.

Consulting a qualified Naturopath in conjunction with medical care may achieve lasting results faster and often avoid surgery.  Call True Medicine on 07 5530 1863 for your personal health assessment.

Source:  Becky Carbines BHSc Nat

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