Article by Angela Haldane

Q. I have recently had an operation for endometriosis, and I would like to avoid it coming back again, which would then require another operation. What do you suggest?

A. Endometriosis occurs when uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus – usually in the pelvic cavity. It causes a multitude of symptoms including pelvic pain, infertility and premenstrual syndrome – often due to the hormonal imbalance.

Often there is a mother or sister with endometriosis. Laparoscopy is the definitive diagnosis.

Endometriosis also tends to recur and about half of all women with endometriosis develop the condition again within 5 years of completing successful treatment regime.

The aim of the naturopathic treatment is to improve the ‘relative oestrogen excess’ with dietary amendments such as legumes, the cabbage family – broccoli, cauliflower, coleslaw, and ground linseed and herbal medicine. This will weaken the hormonal effect on the uterine tissue (in the pelvic cavity) and reduce pain and lessen the symptoms.
A low fat, high fibre diet is best. Reduce caffeine (maximum 1 coffee per day), minimise alcohol intake and quit smoking.
Keep within a healthy weight range, as oestrogen can be stored in the fat cells and worsen the endometriosis condition.

Regulate inflammatory prostaglandins with omega 3 oils – this would require a good quality fish oil in therapeutic doses.

I would use herbal medicine to correct menstrual irregularities... and when appropriate – improve fertility.

Endometriosis requires a comprehensive consultation and lifestyle programme with a registered herbalist. You are always at risk of it returning – the first symptom is the sign to make an appointment for professional treatment in order to keep it under control (see www.nzamh.org.nz for a practitioner).