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Is There a Link Between Endometriosis and Inflammation?

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Endomatriosis and inflammation, is there a link?

Endometriosis, is there a link with inflammation?

It’s Endometriosis Awareness Month and in support this article will look at the connection between endometriosis and inflammation. Because endometriosis is a mysterious and unpredictable disease, understanding what lies behind it can help you take action to reduce your symptoms.

Endometriosis has traditionally been incredibly overlooked. It’s estimated to affect at least 10% of women around the world. However, many cases are missed with some sufferers having to wait considerable time – a staggering eight years, on average – for a diagnosis.

What is Endometriosis?

First, let’s look at what is meant by endometriosis.

The disease occurs when parts of the lining of the womb become displaced and lodge elsewhere in the body. Small bits of this issue stick to organs including the bowel or bladder. They then continue to respond to natural fluctuations in hormones.

When oestrogen rises it tells womb tissue it’s time to grow in readiness for pregnancy. But when this rogue tissue around the body swells in reaction to rising oestrogen, this can cause pain. When oestrogen levels drop again at the start of a period, the womb lining would naturally shed. However, tissue in the wrong place has nowhere to go. This ends up putting pressure on nerves, leading to more and often excruciating pain.

The pain felt in endometriosis depends on where the tissue is located. This means symptoms of the disease differ from person to person. Combined with traditional medical diagnosis relying on a laparoscopy, this means many women are not diagnosed.

Inflammation 101

Now, let’s have a look at inflammation. Inflammation seems to be a buzzword these days and blamed for all ills. This isn’t far from the truth, but it’s often forgotten inflammation plays a very necessary role too. Inflammation is a natural reaction to help your body recover from the effects of pathogens, injury, and trauma. Cells in the immune system release inflammatory chemicals to increase heat and swelling to initiate repair to damaged cells.

However, inflammation was only ever designed to be a short-lived response. Because it does cause some damage once it’s abated your body needs time to recover. Sadly, nowadays situations causing an immune response are so numerous your body can easily be in an almost permanent state of low-grade inflammation which never has a chance to die down.

Many factors in modern living can provoke inflammation. These include emotional stress, ongoing infections or viruses, lack of sleep, environmental toxins, processed foods, sugar, nutritional deficiencies – the list goes on. All these put your immune system on permanent red alert, leading to chronic inflammation. Eventually, the immune system starts to get things wrong and attacks innocent body cells and innocuous substances.

Endometriosis and Inflammation

Scientists know inflammation plays a role in endometriosis, with sufferers having elevated levels of certain immune cells. The immune system should ideally remove endometrial tissue, but instead of doing this it constantly reacts as it would to an invader, by producing inflammatory molecules. This inflammation causes pain and adversely affects the ovaries.

Many scientists have noted the similarity between endometriosis and autoimmune disease. In fact, researchers have found women with endometriosis are more likely to suffer from autoimmune conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Natural hormonal fluctuations occurring during the menstrual cycle do affect the immune system, with increased oestrogen tending to stimulate immune cells into heightened activity. Many women with endometriosis have elevated oestrogen.

The Role of the Gut

The bacteria in your gut have an enormous role to play in the day-to-day management of inflammation. These bacteria directly release either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory molecules, and they also train your immune system to react appropriately.

Scientists noticed the strains of bacteria living in the guts of endometriosis sufferers were distinctly different to those found in healthy people. There were more of certain types of bacteria that release inflammatory molecules called lipopolysaccharides 1. These substances are more likely to migrate into the bloodstream if the gut lining is permeable, or leaky. Many women with endometriosis often suffer from IBS symptoms too.

Although it appears inflammation may encourage endometriosis to develop, researchers believe endometrial tissue itself releases inflammatory molecules into the bloodstream, in a kind of vicious cycle. However, there is much more waiting to be discovered about the link between inflammation and endometriosis.

Natural Help for Endometriosis

Endometriosis can be a frustrating, painful and lonely journey. If you are wondering whether your symptoms might be connected to endometriosis, help is at hand. We use cutting-edge functional tests to examine the bacteria in your gut to discover whether they are contributing to chronic inflammation. Other tests can measure your hormones to see whether they are out of kilter. 

The key to managing endometriosis is to reduce inflammation by dietary and lifestyle approaches and to support gut health. These approaches can be incredibly effective in reducing chronic inflammation and controlling symptoms. To make your first step to overcoming endometriosis, contact us.

References

Did you know you can request a FREE 15 minute Discovery Call

Do you need personalised natural support for Endometriosis? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.

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