Our health practitioner advises on how to care for your skin with Endometriosis
Fiona is a nurse practitioner and nutritionist who has been working in integrative and functional healthcare for over a decade. She has a deep passion for personalised medicine, encompassing physical, emotional & spiritual support. We sat down with her to gain better insight into what happens to the female body when affected by endometriosis, hoping to find some clarity and answers to some of our member's most asked questions.
Endometriosis is the name given to a condition where the endometrium (cells lining the womb) are found elsewhere in the body. Each month these cells build up, break down and bleed. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape. This can lead to adhesions in the pelvis and other areas of the body leading to painful periods, infertility, painful intercourse, fatigue and gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, nausea and irregular bowel movements.
Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can also change during a woman's life due to fluctuations in oestrogen levels and inflammation. Common symptoms reported by The World Health Organisation 
Two main drivers in endometriosis are high levels of oestrogen and chronic inflammation. Both of these drivers can also significantly impact your skin health.
Oestrogen is a female sex hormone made primarily by the ovaries. Once oestrogen has been used by a cell, it is sent to the liver to be removed from the body via the stool with the help of your good gut bugs known as the astrobleme . If the liver is sluggish or there is an imbalance in your good gut bugs or constipation occurs, a condition known as ‘oestrogen dominance’ can occur leading to high levels of oestrogen in the blood. High levels of oestrogen can be common due to increased production of oestrogen by the ovaries or exposure to oestrogen-like substances in our environment such as BPA from plastics. High oestrogen can also be caused by the inability to effectively detoxify oestrogen by the body. This can be due to a combination of genes and blocked detoxification pathways (primarily the gut and liver.) Many women can experience high oestrogen levels, but it is much more common in women who have endometriosis. If there is too much oestrogen in the body this can lead to acne or breakouts on the skin.
Chronic inflammation is a hallmark of endometriosis  This is where the immune system makes compounds that cause pain, fatigue and discomfort. Inflammation can play a role in endometriosis, but the condition itself can also cause inflammation in the body leading to skin irritation, hives, rashes, painful cysts and dermatitis.
The positive news is there are plenty of diet and lifestyle changes you can make to support healthy oestrogen levels and reduce inflammation which in turn can support skin health.
My 5 main tips for women suffering from endometriosis is to introduce diet and lifestyle measures to support healthy oestrogen levels and to reduce inflammation.
Endometriosis is linked to high levels of inflammation. Consuming a whole foods anti-inflammatory diet rich in diverse vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, oily fish and organic meat can help to reduce inflammation and pain associated with endometriosis. Aim for most of your plate to contain at least 3 different types of seasonal vegetables. Limit the consumption of meat, poultry or eggs that are conventionally raised with feed containing pesticides as they can cause further inflammation. Opt for organic and free-range animal products.
Omega 3 contains DHA & EPA, These are fats abundant in oily fish (Salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring), algae, walnuts, flaxseeds and pasture-raised eggs. Choosing a high-quality fish oil has been shown in research to reduce pain and endometrial lesion size. My favourite is Bare Biology Life & soul liquid or capsules.
Fibre is needed to help remove excess oestrogen from our bodies. It also helps to support a healthy astrobleme (gut bacteria that remove used oestrogen from the body.) Aim for 30 grams of fibre daily. Psyllium husk, chia seeds, leafy greens and berries can support healthy oestrogen detoxification.
A study in The Journal of Reproductive Medicine reveals that pine bark extract significantly reduces symptoms of endometriosis by 33 per cent . Pine bark is rich in Pycnogenol, a natural plant extract rich in anti-inflammatory bioflavonoids. Viridian Pine bark extract is a fantastic organic brand that can be used to reduce inflammation and balance hormone levels.
It can be very empowering for women with endometriosis to track their menstrual cycle. Using an app such as Flohealth will connect you to your cycle and may help you understand when to take time out for self-care. A regular cycle is 28-31 days (Day 1 is the 1st day of your period.) Symptoms of endometriosis normally increase the week leading up to your period and during menstruation. This can be a good time to plan for self-care, prioritising sleep and rest.
March is endometriosis awareness month. If you would like to join the 1 in 10 with endometriosis in raising awareness, driving change or just showing support, visit the official website.
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