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How is your gut health linked to endometriosis?

How is your gut health linked to endometriosis?
What is Endometriosis? Endometriosis can be a long-term painful condition where tissue like the lining of the womb grows in other places, like the ovaries and fallopian tubes. One in 10 women has it and on average it takes 7 years to get a diagnosis. This is because the symptoms and pain can be similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Doctors can’t find a definitive cause or solution to the uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms that come with it. According to the World Health Organization around 10% of people who menstruate have endometriosis, and yet the medical world still knows very little about it. But here in the world of holistic health we believe that there is a strong link between endometriosis and your gut health, and here’s why. There is research to suggest that people with an overabundance of oestrogen (oestrogen dominance) are more likely to have endometriosis. And studies have found that prescribing treatments to reduce oestrogen levels in the body can lead to a reduction in endometriosis symptoms, such as pelvic pain. However, these treatments often swing oestrogen levels too far the other way and can result in early onset menopause. But how does all this relate to your gut health? Balance is key - the body, like nature, is complex and healing rarely happens by addressing only one aspect of ourselves. There are specific types of fungi and bacteria called collectively, the estrobolome, which directly influence the levels of oestrogen in your system. If these bacteria become imbalanced it can cause oestrogen to remain in the body leading to oestrogen dominance. Having a gut that is full of a variety of beneficial microbes will help to balance the estrobolome and in turn balance your oestrogen levels. What specific strains will help? There is research to suggest that the balance of Lactobacillus bacteria in the body plays a role in endometriosis. Women with endometriosis tend to have significantly fewer Lactobacillus bacteria in their reproductive tract, and increased numbers of bacteria associated with Bacterial Vaginosis. Increasing the number of Lactobacillus in the body could help to reduce the debilitating pain that comes with endometriosis. A study found that women treated with probiotics containing Lactobacillus saw a significant decrease in pain compared to the placebo participants. Another aspect of endometriosis researchers are considering is a link to the immune system. An imbalance in the immune system may make the body unable to recognize and destroy endometrial-like tissue that's growing outside the uterus. Since 80-90% of the immune system resides in the gut, a healthy balanced gut may be less likely to trigger such a reaction. Have you heard of Endo Belly? One of the symptoms that people with endometriosis suffer with is known as Endo Belly, which can cause abdominal bloating, constipation, and abdominal pain. Doctors don’t know the exact cause of Endo Belly, but theories suggest that endometriosis can lead to gut sensitivity, and this is supported by the high number of people who have both endometriosis and IBS. Recommended treatment for Endo Belly consists of avoiding inflammatory foods such as red meat, dairy and alcohol, along with drinking peppermint or ginger tea to aid with digestive pains. If you suffer with IBS you’ll know that these are also the recommended treatments to soothe the symptoms of IBS. However, these solutions don’t get to the root cause. If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ll know that restoring the beneficial bacteria in your gut with the help of a good probiotic can work wonders for treating the cause of IBS. And the same can be said for endometriosis. A study in mice found that after taking probiotics there was a significant decrease in the size of endometriosis lesions. No two bodies are the same, and balance within your body will look different to your neighbour’s. If you are interested in learning more about the gut’s connection to hormonal health then click here to download our eGuide. It will help you to understand how your gut health is linked to your hormones and what you can do to support both.

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