I’ve already written about my personal situation with endometriosis and pregnancy, but I, like many of you, have received a lot of mixed information on this so called “cure.” I’ve already told you what my doctor told me, but I wanted to create an article that had just the facts all in one place.
Please, as always, remember that I’m not a doctor. My expertise goes no farther than my own experience with endometriosis, the things my doctor has told me, and google.
Early on in my diagnosis, my doctor said that the best thing for my endo would be pregnancy. Trusting my doctor, I began planning my life with a young pregnancy in mind. I was already married young, and to me it was just a matter of getting through school and getting the finances to make it happen. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Plus, after two surgeries pregnancy was the only treatment I was willing to pursue. To my knowledge, it was that, surgery (again), or removing my uterus. I also had my heart set on family life. Imagine my distress when I started seeing this on many of the endo blogs I follow:
So let’s start by saying this:
Pregnancy as a cure for endo is NOT a myth, a lie, a misconception, or a fantasy.
Pregnancy as a cure for endo IS a misnomer.
Strictly speaking, there is no cure for endometriosis, and it’s one of the hardest endo facts to accept. Even removing every bit of your reproductive system will not cure it. You may never have another symptom as long as you live, so it’s easy to see how the word “cure” gets tossed around. But in the end, technically speaking, removing your organs does not fix them.
So what we’re looking at here are not possibilities of cures, but merely ways to improve one’s quality of life – in other words, we’re looking at treatments.
Pregnancy can be an effective treatment for endo.
Pregnancy is NOT an effective treatment for everyone.
Remember that this is true of any treatment for any disease. I repeat the old pharmaceutical mantra that the pill that saves one man may kill another. There is no one size fits all.
But if pregnancy can be effective, why? And how?
In my case, my doctor has noted that my endo is aggravated by, if not caused by, the shape of my uterus and surrounding organs. My uterus is tilted, which is very common. But the tilt paired with my “bell-shaped” colon (read: loose hanging colon) makes a perfect storm for endo pain and cyst growth. During my surgeries, my doctor tried making minute adjustments to my uterus’s position, and the results were very positive. Therefore in my case, the extreme reshaping that would come from pregnancy has a high chance of reducing the amount of endometrium that ends up outside of the uterus, which means less cysts and less pain. Maybe even no pain. But, I reiterate, this is in my unique case.
There are other benefits that come from pregnancy as well. One short term benefit is that during pregnancy and nursing, you won’t have cramps. Well actually that sounds better than it is – you won’t have uterine cramps. Obviously carrying a baby around in your tummy is going to cause some new cramps. But the uterine cramps are not only painful on their own and a leading cause of pain in endo patients, it is also believed to contribute to endometrium getting pushed out of the uterus. So a year long vacation from endo is not a bad deal, especially if having a baby was already in your plans.
Another thing that happens during pregnancy is that your hormones get a total makeover. They change to equip you to grow and carry a child – and they make you cry a lot and want to eat lots of pickles, I hear. But when we take birth control pills or estrogen treatments, what we’re doing is chemically mimicking what our hormones do when we’re pregnant. Since one of the causes of endometriosis is a hormonal imbalance, having a hormone overhaul has a high chance of making a lasting difference.
Between re-balancing your hormones and reshaping your uterus, pregnancy basically gives your body one big do-over. There’s no garuntee you’ll get it right your second try, but the odds are high. Some people do develop endo after pregnancy when they didn’t have it before, but that is much rarer.
The ways that pregnancy helps with endo are very mysterious. There are lots of benefits that come from pregnancy, from a new hormone balance to a new tummy to the amazing stem cells that can actually regrow the mother’s organs if any harm comes to her during the pregnancy. What is absolutely undeniable is that pregnancy helps millions of women find relief and even elimination of their symptoms. There are too many success stories to call the pregnancy treatment an old wives tale. Most medical sites say there is nothing to it. But the longer I’ve been ill, the less I trust big pharma. I got off all my IBS medication by taking on a diet targeted at my symptoms. I feel better on fruits and veggies than I ever did on those pills.
I have not tried pregnancy myself, but I’ve had two surgeries and two different kinds of estrogen treatments to make me have as few periods as possible. Cutting myself open and controlling my hormones with harmful chemicals are the most recommended treatments out there. Yes, they helped. But I am by no means symptom-free, and I’m not a fan of the way the chemicals make me feel or the ugly raised scars on my abdomen that become more pronounced with each surgery. I’m not saying these are bad treatments, but I am saying that I don’t want to live life from surgery to surgery and take pills every day until the day I die. There is more you can do. The power of a healthy, chemical-free diet is severely underrecognized. I didn’t believe it myself until I tried it – and I’m no vegan. I still eat candy and cheetoes. Small changes make a bigger difference than pills did.
The moral of the story – a doctor can help you. You need a doctor to monitor your symptoms and intervene with surgery and medication when necessary. But try a dietitian too. Try massage. Try the organic grocery store. Health doesn’t come from the pharmacy, it comes from your life. So think about pregnancy. Think about diet. Think about how nature would heal if it had your problems – and that may sound like hippie nonsense crap but really, nature is amazing.