Endometriosis can affect so many areas of a woman's life and likewise, the condition and the symptoms are affected by so many factors. The way society, friends, family, doctors and the work force are addressing endometriosis in both you and all other sufferers can leave you feeling unheard, neglected or misunderstood and it can often have a negative effect on your mental health and leave you feeling isolated and frustrated. Anxiety and depression is heavily linked with endometriosis and many women face these issues at some point in their endo journey and much of it is to do with the lack of support, the symptoms and how they reduce quality of life. Additionally, stress as a result of worrying about health and perhaps finances if work is disrupted, can also play a role in mental health and affect the body, even exasperating symptoms. If you don't have an understanding workplace, family or social group, it could also leave you struggling as you try to fulfill job and social pressures when fatigued and unwell.
In this section, I will be sharing practices which can help alleviate these pressures and have a positive effect on psychological and physiological well being. We will be looking at areas such as mindfulness and meditation, acupuncture, yoga and other gentle exercise, daily habits, self-care and compassion, the benefits of a community or support group and even volunteering. Just as importantly, I will also cover advocacy subjects and provide information on rights in the workplace and to correct healthcare, and will provide signposts to medical explanations of treatment options and/or my experiences with these. I think it's also essential that women are inspired by others who have also gone through the same journey and have managed to control the condition to the best of their ability, or have created something wonderful as a result, such as Sarah, at Skin and Tonic London.
This leads me on to the environmental and lifestyle factors that can have an effect on the severity of endometriosis and its symptoms. Unfortunately, our world is now full of toxins and chemicals which can play havoc with our hormonal system and cause endocrine disruption. Our liver is also essential to supporting our body to cope with endometriosis, as it regulates hormones and removes harmful chemical build up which could exasperate the condition, but with all the added pollutants that we're absorbing, the pressure can hinder the livers ability to function.
The main culprits I have discovered so far are xeno-estrogens, these are fake chemical oestrogens which are found in the pesticides, cleaning products, beauty products and exhaust fumes to name a few. Oestrogen encourages endometriosis growth and so if your body thinks it's absorbing more, so will your endo. Most manufactured beauty products, from body cream to mascara, contains some kind of xeno-estrogens or toxins and as your skin absorbs up to 70% of what you put on it, these will enter your blood stream, along with the other chemicals in the environment and products we use.
Thankfully, it is relatively easy to begin making some quick changes - there are now a range of natural and non-toxic cleaning products and you can in fact make your own, which is cheaper and contain fewer ingredients, if you have time. There are also a range of beauty companies now providing organic and natural make-up, fragrances and body/hair care and again, you can make so much of it yourself. I use a range of store bought products and my own and the knowledge that I am reducing my toxin intake has improved my stress levels and given me one less thing to be concerned about. In this section, I will provide recipes for homemade products as well as recommendations on good natural and organic companies. I will also explore in more detail the affects of different chemicals and environmental factors, which will provide you with the knowledge to make informed and conscious decisions about your lifestyle.
I appreciate that living with endometriosis is difficult enough, without having to change the way you live (even more so). But in my personal experience and from my discussions with others, the benefits these differences have made to symptoms and mental health, plus the added assurance that you're supporting the environment through choosing non-toxic products, is such a positive change that it makes the commitment and transitional process worthwhile. However, I don't suggest you burden yourself with having to change everything all at once or even completely. Endometriosis is a very personal condition which we cope with in individual ways, so these posts will be there for you to learn from and provide you with options, to tailor your lifestyle to what suits you.