I had a fantastic time talking to Korie from Functional Health + Wellness about Endometriosis on Instagram Live a few nights ago. Here’s some answers to a few of her most asked questions:
What symptoms were you having that lead you to finding out you had endometriosis?
I first noticed symptoms when I began my period at age 12. I would be in excruciating and debilitating pain with every cycle. The pain would be 10/10 on a pain scale and would keep me from going to school, engaging in activities, and concentrating in school. Later in my teen years I developed GI issues such as bloating and constipation. Then in my 20’s it progressed to pain with sex, generalized fatigue, joint pain, hip and back pain, and a chronic pelvic pain even without periods.
How old were you when you were diagnosed?
It took until I was 26 years old to get an official diagnosis of endometriosis. Until that time, I was told by countless doctor’s things like “you’re too young for endometriosis’, ‘you must have a low pain threshold’ ‘just wait until you have kids, that helps with the period pain’ or my favorites ‘have you talked to a therapist about this’.
How has this affected you in other areas of your life?
When the pain and symptoms where at its worst, it impacted every area of my life. I was no longer able to walk or hike for long distances, practicing yoga (which was a form of spiritual practice for me) was no longer an option, sexual intimacy became a source of emotional and physical pain, and my pain distracted me from the meaningful work I was engaged in. Additionally, due to my GI tract being involved I lost a significant amount of weight.
Did you initially seek a medical path to wellness or more alternative medicine?
I have always gravitated towards alternative medicine. I am attuned to Reiki, use essential oils, practice meditation, sought acupuncture, hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, etc. At first I used all of these practices and then some. While many of them helped me on a spiritual level and some of them helped me manage a pain my effectively they were not solely effective at getting rid of my pain.
What remedies have been working for you in managing your endometriosis?
The things that drastically improved my pain were:
1. Changing my diet to an anti-inflammatory based one
2. Learning how to manage my stress and how it impacts me on a physical level
3. Finding an excision surgeon to appropriately remove the endometriosis tissue.
Additionally, the use of heat, self-massage, pelvic floor massage, adaptogenic herbs, anti-inflammatory foods, and acupuncture all help to provide relief in various ways.
What would you recommend to women that are suffering from this condition?
1. You are not alone. There are millions of women across the globe that experience endometriosis find them and support one another.
2. Educate yourself. Endometriosis and the treatment of it are rooted in misogynist and paternalistic views that still contain myth, misconception, and falsehoods.
- For example, birth control will not cure and does not treat endo. Specifically, Lupron does more damage and is unnecessary for many women.
- Hysterectomy is not a cure or a treatment for endo.
- Having children will not cure or treat endo.
- Newer research has debunked the myth that endometriosis is an estrogen driven condition. (Cook, 2012). While estrogen plays a role, it is not the only player in the disease mechanism.
3. Find your voice. Learn how to be your own advocate. If a physician or healthcare practitioner doesn’t listen to you, find someone new. Surround yourself with a team that makes you feel empowered to make choices and decisions. Learn what questions to ask and how to ask them in a way that allows you know if your doctor understands endometriosis.
SEE MORE: PEN + PAPER FERTILITY CHARTING
4. Be willing to try new things. When I was first diagnosed, my doctor suggested I go gluten free. I was totally resistant to the idea. I simply didn’t believe what I ate had any impact on my pain. However, as my pain grew and my quality of life decreased, I decided to give it a shot. Within 4 weeks of giving up gluten and dairy I could see a difference in the intensity and duration of pain.
Little did I know, but I was later diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which means I should have never been eating gluten in the first place! While I am not saying that every woman with endo should be gluten free, I am saying that it may be worth your while to try things out if they have the potential to increase your quality of life and decrease your pain.
5. Find an excision specialist. For many women including myself, the only way to get pain free was with surgery. However, not every surgery is the same. When I first started my journey, I had never heard of excision and just believed that to treat endo I would need surgery every few years. The reality is that regular ablation surgery generally uses a method where only the top layer of endometrioses is lasered or burned off, often times leaving microscopic endo to grow back. A true excision surgery will be more invasive, longer, and will remove all of the diseased tissue by physically cutting it out. To excise, means to dig into the tissue and remove all of it, not just the top layer.
Tell us more about Functional Health + Wellness:
From my own journey with chronic illness and having worked in the healthcare system for over 15 years, I know how broken our healthcare system is. After going back to school for my PhD I have made the transition into a new career.
Now, I am a functional medicine health and wellness coach! Functional medicine is a new way of viewing dis-ease and illness by identifying the root cause and not just simply treating the symptoms. As a functional medicine health and wellness coach, I work with women who live with complex chronic conditions, such as endometriosis. In our work together, I empower women to find their voice as an advocate, learn new pain management techniques, and if they are interested learn diet and lifestyle changes that can significantly decrease pain and increase quality of life.
I work 1:1, offer groups, workshops, and webinars. Head on over to my website and schedule your free intro session and receive 25% off packages if you mention The Vagina Blog!!!