Look up “what is endometriosis?” and you will get this complex-sounding explanation of endometrial cells found in the abdominal cavity.
The exact phrasing goes something like this:
“Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus” (credit here)
Say what? What you really want to know is why do you have endometriosis and what is causing all this nasty pain?
Here is my understanding of what endometriosis is:
Some of these ideas are yet to be proven and some are just my own theory but hey, take what resonates with you…
To me, endometriosis is a reaction to a bunch of cells that found themselves in the wrong place in the body. It’s like they went on some big party, drank too much wine, and then got stuck out in neverland. What caused them to go hay-wire and scatter themselves way out in the abdominal area is unknown. All we know is that their random act of displacement is causing a great deal of pain for women with endometriosis around the world.
Now, if I was to interview these randomly dispersed cells… here is what they would probably tell me.
“Look Mel. I know I am not really meant to be hanging out here but nobody has told me to leave. I know that in other women’s bodies, there is some dude that comes along and tells them to leave and then they do but I haven’t so I am just going to hang out here and carry on with our party.”
The problem is twofold as far as I can see:
- The dispersed cells should be told to leave. Okay, that is simplifying it but in theory, the immune system is supposed to just clean them up. There are studies to show that many women have these randomly dispersed cells but not all women develop endometriosis (Thomas & Rock, 1991), (Mills & Vernon, 1999). So, what is going on there? Which part of the immune system is seeing these dispersed cells as a threat and won’t just clean them up?
- These dispersed cells are settling in and running amuck. When they hang out and stay put – because the immune system isn’t cleaning them up – they create a problem for the body. The body goes rampant. It swells, causes inflammation and it thereby releases prostaglandins and a bunch of other immune fighting dudes and causes pain. Lots of pain. It is like the body is trying to fight off the cells through its natural mechanisms but it’s like it has the wrong message. It builds on the cells. Makes them become inflamed and creates adhesions to try and repair the area.
Why does endometriosis form?
To me, it is an immune system that has mixed messages. Why would it have that?
Aaaah and this becomes the bigger question doesn’t it?
The real reason I think endometriosis exists has many layers but let us explore some ideas for you to ponder over:
- There has been a trigger. An infection. A fall. Some kind of trauma to the area. The body went into overdrive at that point and somehow never resolved that feeling. It will protect the uterus at all costs and yes, it remembers and is still overcoming that. The brain is hardwired to protect us from danger and once it has occurred it is like it struggles to forget. What does it need? Release. Freeing. Being heard.
- Deep anxiety and an overwhelming feeling of shame, guilt or simply not feeling valuable have set in. This is of course just one piece of the puzzle but we always need to ask ourselves why the body attacks its own cells. Where are you hating on your body? or yourself? Are there parts of yourself that you just can’t seem to love? How can you embrace loving yourself without guilt or shame for anything you might have done? What relationship has affected that love for yourself? Does the endometriosis settle more on the right or left? There are emotional links to every disease and dismissing them leaves you with less opportunity to truly heal.
- The gut has been tampered with. Oh, there are so many ways our gut lining becomes triggered and when this happens, it alters our immune system. Think of the gut like a barrier, a wall between what comes into your body. When that is weak, a whole bunch of things can come in, and guess what that does… trigger inflammation. The gut can get damaged by the points mentioned above but there are a host of other factors like: going on the contraceptive pill, taking anti-biotics, having a stomach bug, eating foods with lots of preservatives (yes, those are designed to stop growths on foods but they also stop good gut flora from growing) and of course, stress and anxiety are the biggest triggers.
- The body is just in a state of permanent inflammation. On a simple level, this could be as easy as shifting what you eat – cos hey, we know that is our fuel and what you put in, is what you get out! – but really inflammation has many layers. If you have other signs of inflammation going on – pain in other areas of the body, frequent headaches, swelling, other inflammatory conditions, and of course endometriosis… ask yourself: “What am I inflamed about?” and where can you ease inflammation through what is offered to you on a silver platter called nature: what you eat, how you move, how you breathe and of course and most importantly how you think.
- There are other imbalances going on. Candida perhaps? Lack of iron? But this brings us back to my previous point of the gut being tampered with cos if the gut was good, then there wouldn’t be toxins entering, lack of nutrients due to poor absorption, or funky fungal overgrowths like Candida.
- What about heavy metal exposure? Hmmm, this could be a link for sure cos ultimately when those heavy metal dudes come in, they block the absorption of nutrients which will cause the whole body to run on low steam. Like an engine with really crappy fuel or a windmill with fewer spokes. When that happens, our energy motors and our liver function all run poorly. Backlog occurs and that’s when the system becomes depleted and guess who steps in then? The invaders (infections), other toxins and of course your reserves are low so less is allocated towards healing.
Okay. Big thoughts and lots for you to explore. What resonates? What makes sense to you based on your own history with endo?
Would love to hear from you…