Endometriosis changed my life…for the better
It may be hard to believe this statement, but hear me out. I was diagnosed with endometriosis it last year—along with adenomyosis, fibroids, and an ovarian cyst. And I want to say this now: Endo is awful. It sucks how long it takes to be diagnosed, and it’s horrible how it affects our lives. The pain and suffering are real, and I hear you loud and clear, ladies. Loud and clear.
But I also firmly believe that there's another way when it comes to treatment. I was offered the standard care of hormones and a hysterectomy, and I declined both. Why? Because I was born with all these parts of my body and believe that they're there for a reason, I didn't want to go through premature menopause (a result of hysterectomy), and I've read enough to know that removing the womb doesn't always mean a cure.
Before you put me in the woo-woo wellness camp, I should tell you that I used to be a nurse. I speak the language of medicine, and it’s why my surgeon looked at me like I was crazy when I said no to all the options she gave me. As I left, she said she would see me back in her office in 10 years begging for a hysterectomy.
So why did I feel confident walking away from the conventional treatments? Because for the last five years I've become intimately acquainted with my body. I've gotten to know my own workings inside and out and back to front. When I was suffering from undiagnosed endo I reached out to health care professionals about my symptoms, but I didn’t get the answers I wanted. First, they didn’t have the time or space to talk; I was batted away like I was making it up or making it worse than it was. I felt like no one believed that my pain or symptoms were real. It was very frustrating, and I built up a lot of resentment and mistrust, so I figured I had nothing to lose and tried to find alternatives.
Today I'm pain-free, and my periods are the textbook periods that most women dream of. They aren’t massively heavy, I get no clots, I don’t have pain, they last about five days, and my cycle that used to be anywhere from 21 to 33 days is now cruising along at an average of 26 days. Here's how I did it:
1. I charted my cycle.
Get an app, get a diary, get a scrap of paper and write down what happens to you every day: your emotions, your flow, your skin, and all the sensations in your body. Be as detailed as you can, and the messages your body is trying to send you will unfold. Aim to do three months to really build up a picture, but the longer you do it the more you will see.
2. I opened up about what was going on.
By opening up I was able to educate others on my condition and get the support I needed. So speak with your family and be open with your employers. The only way we can get our needs met is by naming them. Doing this makes this next part easier: Rest around your period. Go to bed early and lessen the demands you put on yourself
3. I looked for some herbal support.
I started taking a specific blend that helps with my womb, the pain, my hormones, and blood flow—nurturing and supporting the whole body. If I've learned anything through my healing process it's that herbs are freaking amazing! Nettle is one of my best friends: It's high in iron and helps to stem blood flow. Chasteberry is the "women’s herb," and it helps to balance hormones, among many other things.
4. I got Mizan womb massages on-the-go.
Many traditional medicine systems incorporate abdominal therapy for reproductive health. I went to get these regularly when I was healing from endo. And believe me, I wish I had known about this magic so much sooner because it really is the most amazing thing you can do for your body. Mizan is an Arabic word that means "balance," and the treatment itself is a gentle massage of the abdomen that aims to improve the flow of blood and lymph in the body. It helps restore balance and alignment so that the body can heal itself.
5. I changed my sanitary products.
Look for natural products, moon cups, diva cups, and reusable pads. Even if this grosses you out at first—give it a try. It was the first thing I did, and I was amazed at how much difference it has made. My cycle started to regulate almost immediately when I stopped inundating my body with toxins.
6. Cut out the crappy foods.
Once I made the decision to go it alone, I knew that processed foods and those that cause inflammation—like dairy, gluten, corn, and sugar—had to go. I replaced them with organic products, whole foods, and plenty of vegetables. We are what we eat, so give your body every opportunity to heal by giving it the right fuel.
7. I turned to natural household and beauty products.
Commercial everyday products have components in them that mimic estrogen in our body. Exposure to this over time unbalances our hormones and in turn creates a vicious cycle of feeding the problems in our body. It's important to reduce your exposure to toxins by switching to natural beauty products and adopting a green cleaning routine.