Endometriosis is a severe and painful condition affecting around one in ten women in the UK. It is sadly hugely underdiagnosed, with sufferers waiting an average of eight years to receive diagnosis and treatment.
One reason for this delay is that some symptoms of endometriosis are similar to many other female health conditions. Painful bloating, pain and bleeding during bowel movements, can be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Other symptoms, like heavy, painful periods and pain during or after sex, are often dismissed as normal and not something to bother a doctor about.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where womb-like tissue begins to grow outside of the womb, usually around the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
This can cause pain and inflammation, and can sometimes damage the reproductive organs, forming scar tissue and cysts.
How can a diet help?
Of course, diet can’t solve the underlying problem. However, some experts now believe that changing what you eat can help control some of the more debilitating symptoms of endometriosis. The bloating and abdominal pain that some women suffer on almost a daily basis, known not-so-affectionately as ‘endo belly’.
Although endometriosis is in essence a reproductive health issue, it has links with digestive problems. Medical professionals believe that the two issues may exacerbate each other, creating a vicious cycle.
Eating a diet that eases the digestive symptoms of endometriosis could in turn help to reduce inflammation in the area. This could lead to also reducing other symptoms, or so the theory goes.
The low-FODMAP diet
So what is this diet that promises so much? It’s known as the low-FODMAP diet, and has been doing the rounds in IBS circles for a few years now.
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo Di- Mono-saccahrides and Polyols. It refers to certain types of carbohydrate found in foods like wheat and pulses. These short-chain carbohydrates are hard to digest. Instead of being absorbed into your bloodstream, they make their way to the end of the intestine. They combine with the gut bacteria to form gas.
In healthy guts, this doesn’t cause a problem. But if you have a sensitive digestive system, this gas can cause pain, inflammation and bloating.
Can this really help to treat endometriosis?
A low FODMAP diet cannot be used as a treatment for endometriosis. The evidence is clear that while changing your diet may relieve some of the symptoms, it won’t solve the underlying problem.
So if the symptoms detailed above sound familiar to you, you should seek medical advice and be sure to mention endometriosis as a possible diagnosis.
Here at Surescan, we specialise in women’s health, so our staff are trained to recognise the signs of symptoms of endometriosis early. For more information or to book a consultation, please contact us.