Endometriosis, Fibroids and Fertility – Part 1
Endometriosis and fibroids play a large role in fertility. Endometriosis is the abnormal growth and function of endometrial tissue and it makes a woman’s monthly cycle a cycle of abdominal pain, cramps, backaches and irregular bleeding.
Fibroids in an of themselves are painless and usually only become discovered due to heavy bleeding, discomfort or inability to conceive or a tendency towards miscarriage. Or, unless they get large enough to irritate surrounding tissues.
In my opinion, traditional medicine is pretty primitive in its treatment of both. Pain relieving drugs are used for endometriosis and surgery is used for fibroid removal. The problem is that the fibroids often come back and they want to perform surgery again.
Traditional medicine views this as your problem and wants to blame it on genetics or predisposition, which is just an easy way to not have to figure out why you have fibroids.
Your doctor should be looking to discover why you are “prone” to having fibroids or endometriosis.
A Note On Surgery
I can tell you that from clinical experience surgery is the last thing you want for any part of your body. Whether its the ovaries, uterus, gall bladder or appendix, people that come to me with the most difficult presentations and severe chronic pain ranging from knee pain to depression almost always have had surgery. From my observations, the worst surgery is the removal of any organ, not necessarily something like an ACL surgery. In other words, gall bladder surgery can be the worst for the knee, even more than ACL surgery.
Fibroids and Infertility
Fibroids affect approximately 5-10% of women affected by infertility and it is estimated that they are the sole factor in only 1-2.4% of infertility cases. Meaning, don’t go and get surgery just because you have a fibroid. Many women do and while it may contribute some to infertility, there is usually a bigger factor.
Endometriosis and Infertility
Endometriosis on the other hand is found in up to 50% of infertility cases. Every article you read will tell you that the cause of endometriosis is “unknown.” This is true, in the way that we don’t seem to know why the endometrial tissue leaves the uterus. But we do know what stimulates the endometrial tissue to thicken which is estrogen. The estrogen increase can be caused by a normal monthly cycle, environmental toxins, insulin and inflammation.
Fibroids and Endometriosis Are Related
While fibroids and endometriosis are classified as only hormonal metabolism issues, the truth is that they are both very similar in their underlying processes. Both are altered or contributed to by detoxification, inflammation and blood sugar imbalances.
What Makes Fibroids Worse?
Estrogen. We learn this because girls do not have fibroids prior to puberty and they seem to regress at menopause as estrogen levels tend to be less cyclic and more constant. Most of the estrogen that feeds the growth for fibroids comes from the uterus.
But, what makes fibroids so annoying is that fibroids actually make estrogen themselves. They can make so much that they don’t even need the ovaries to provide them any additional estrogen to grow.
One of the characteristics that becomes abnormal in females with fibroids is that of aromatase. Aromatase converts things like testosterone and DHEA into estrogen. Aromatase is why men can have gynecomastia, aka “man boobs”. You can see how strong aromatase is, when you realize it can alter male hormones enough to give them female characteristics ranging from their chest to their emotions.
Why Do We Have So Much Aromatase?
The most potent stimulator of fibroids and aromatase is inflammation. One of the major stimulators are chemicals called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are fat based hormones found in all tissues of the body and are required for health, ovulation, monthly menstrual cycles, sperm motility, immune health, contraction of the uterus at birth and also are a prime promoter of menstrual cramps.
Localized inflammation can make it difficult to maintain a pregnancy past a few days. This is because prostaglandins at the end of the menstrual cycle signal the corpus luteum to die off and begin the start of a new menstrual cycle. Fibroids can secrete their own prostaglandins at any time and signal the expelling of the womb lining, even if there is an implanted egg.
This can be the case for those that miscarry at only a few days up until a few months.
The menstrual cramps that I mentioned previously actually play a role in fertility as the gentle contraction of the womb and fallopian tubes push the egg and the sperm to the final one-third of the fallopian tube, where fertilization occurs. It has been proposed that excessively strong contractions (aka cramps) can disturb the process by being too forceful.
How to Decrease Aromatase?
Aromatase is stimulated by insulin, meaning sugars and carbohydrates. All sugars can be put on a graduated scale as far as how much insulin they stimulate, but some of the worst are high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar and any artificial sweetener. Diet sodas and “sugar-free” products are also insulin stimulating even though they claim to have no sugar. Ever wonder why people that drink diet soda still gain weight? The insulin rush can be the same or greater as drinking regular soda. In addition to processed sugars, wheat is a potent stimulator of insulin release.
After insulin imbalances are corrected, a diet high in healthy fats and omega-3s will help to keep inflammation down. If you have a diet that is high in healthy fats but then you choose to add large amounts of sugar, then it is just like throwing gasoline on the fire. Fats are the wood and sugar is the gasoline. A small amount of gasoline may help you start the first, but a large amount will cause an explosion.
It is also important to note that PGE2, an inflammatory chemical is the most potent stimulator of breast cancer. If inflammation isn’t checked and decreased, then you are prone to a life-long cycle of female health concerns that gets worse and worse.
So the take home points are:
1. Reduce Inflammation
2. Reduce Aromatase activity
Continue to Part 2 with more on endometriosis and how to naturally detoxify estrogen