CADY McCLAIN

Director, Producer, Artist

Endometriosis: An Ignored Female Epidemic

Posted on: June 19, 2012

Endometriosis.  It’s a long word for what is in short, a painful and mysterious disease.  No one knows what causes it, but approximately 6 MILLION women in the United States alone suffer from it.

“We now have staggering rates of endometriosis, fibroids, PID [Pelvic Inflammatory Disease], TSS and 1.7 million hysterectomies performed this past year–the most [ever],” she said. “Twenty-five years ago, these were rare illnesses for women.” Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, retired professor from San Diego State University and author of the recently released The Uterine Crisis.

Google “Endometriosis” and the first word that will jump out at you is INFERTILITY.  Many women with this disease can be rendered infertile, and yet doctors are still not mentioning it when you are describing your so called “phantom pain.”  Why is this?  Are doctors simply ignoring the disease?  Can 6 million women facing infertility really be that inconsequential?

Endometriosis is a disease where the cells from the lining of the inside of your uterus suddenly start appealing elsewhere in your body cavity.  They usually appear around the lower half of your body, but it has been found as far up as the lungs.

What do theses cells do?  They react just like your uterus.  When you get PMS, they get PMS.  When you get your period and bleed, so do they.  There is an internal bleeding every month from these cells.  So much so that over time the cells can form a cluster of blood, or a cyst, and attach to whatever is around.  They call these cysts “chocolate cysts” because of their color.   Yummy, right?  Not really.

These cysts can become quite painful.  In fact, even without a cyst the main symptom is PAIN.  For some women, it’s awful pain akin to the cramps you have just before giving birth.  It makes having sexual intercourse quite difficult, because if your partner hits one of those clusters of uterine cells, you are going to go through the roof.

You may have endometriosis and not even know it.  Maybe you just thought you got “bruised” inside somehow, or maybe you think you just have rough periods.  The disease doesn’t show on an ex-ray, the only way you can find out for sure is having bad enough pain that you need an operation to remove what they THINK is a cyst that shows on a sonogram, or surgery for a fibroid tumor.  That’s how I found out I had it.

A Fibroid tumor is a non-cancerous cluster of cells that latch onto your uterus.  I am lucky, I only had one but it became symptomatic, causing me lower back pain, bladder problems and pain during intercourse.  When they opened me up they found Stage 4 endometriosis.  They weren’t expecting it.  I was in surgery for 6 hours.  That was five years ago.  Now I have to go back in for another operation because it’s painful again.   I know a woman who has had 6 operations for this disease.  SIX.  To me, that sounds abusive.  Isn’t there something that can be done?

Here’s the skinny.  They say they don’t know how you really get it, but there is a good chance you got it from three places:

1) you were genetically predispositioned

2) you have an immense deficiency, perhaps caused by stress, a medical or (possibly) environmental condition

3) the menstrual flow backed up somehow.

When I read number three, I almost fell over.  Back up?  I didn’t think my uterus was capable of backing up blood INTO my body.  I thought the uterus was a contained system.  How could the blood get out any other way than through my vagina?  I was embarrassed to face my naiveté.  There is clearly a place between the fallopian tube and the ovary where they egg has to pop out and get sucked up by the tube to be sent down into the uterus.  What goes down… can go back up.

So what might cause this back flow?  A TAMPON perhaps?  Is it just possible that if you leave your tampon in ALL NIGHT like MILLIONS of women do, that a back flow of blood could occur?

I’m not the only person thinking along these lines.  Here’s a neat little quote from Vital Health.com

“It makes sense that if the tampon is not changed frequently, it can become saturated and may then act as a plug, increasing the back-pressure of blood into the uterus. “

Here’s another little tid-bit about tampons.  Your regular run-of the mill tampon contains DIOXIN.  A chemical that is a bi-product of bleaching.

Here’s another bit from the same article:

” In a 1993 case control study, Darrow et. al. compared tampon use in 104 women with laparoscopically confirmed endometriosis to 100 friends of the patients. Compared to their friends, women with endometriosis under the age of 30 were, on average, 3.6 times as likely to have a history of tampon use of greater than or equal to 14 years.”

and

“Clearly, there was an increased incidence of endometriosis with exposure to dioxin, and an increased severity with the dose of dioxin.”

Where else can you be exposed to Dioxin?  How about these fun facts from Energy Justice:

The major sources of dioxin are in our diet. Since dioxin is fat-soluble, it bioaccumulates, climbing up the food chain. A North American eating a typical North American diet will receive 93% of their dioxin exposure from meat and dairy products (23% is from milk and dairy alone; the other large sources of exposure are beef, fish, pork, poultry and eggs). In fish, these toxins bioaccumulate up the food chain so that dioxin levels in fish are 100,000 times that of the surrounding environment.

You can find them all throughout our atmosphere and wherever bleaching agents are sold.  Oh and BTW, YES.  IT CAUSES CANCER.

Dioxin Exposure Chart 
Chart from EPA Dioxin Reassessment Summary 4/94 – Vol. 1, p. 37
(Figure II-5. Background TEQ exposures for North America by pathway)

Doesn’t that just THRILL you beyond end?

WHAT TO DO:

Go vegan.  That’s it.  No meat, dairy, caffeine or alcohol.  No eggs, fish, butter, pork, poultry… SUSHI.  No ICE CREAM???  When they told me I almost fell off my chair.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I’m a steak eating one martini a day gal.  What’s this shit?  I had to take a moment.

It seems this is my fate, my destiny to change.  If I want to live, if I want to have sex, if I want to not be in pain, not get worse (god knows what they are going to find when they open me up) I’ve got to give up all the foods I normally eat.  I have to become one of “them,” those “healthy people” who eat at Vegan restaurants and take B-12 and don’t smoke or drink, I have to do Yoga and meditate to lower my stress level, I have to learn to live entirely differently than I do now.

FUCK.

Well, I don’t have to give up swearing.  Thank christ.

Considering it’s becoming a world wide epidemic, I think I may just invest in a Vegan chain restaurant.  It’s not just me saying “world wide epidemic” btw.

It is estimated that there are over 70 million women worldwide who suffer from the symptoms of endometriosis making it a modern epidemic.

Endometriosis affects over one hundred million women worldwide and is more common than breast cancer and diabetes. Up to 10% of women in their reproductive years and a quarter to half of all women with infertility have been diagnosed with endometriosis

Then there is this:

The recent increase in the incidence of endometriosis coincides with the rapid increase of genetically modified (GM) foods in diets around the world.  He goes onto say that herbicide, such as the commonly used “Roundup” can also create an environmental estrogen toxicity.

There is much more to discover, but it’s a disease that is here and we need to get talking about it.  It’s changed my life already.  The frustration and shame over having something that affects my ability to get pregnant is a blog unto itself, but suffice it to say, it sucks.

Please share this article with any woman you know who is suffering from this disease.  All I want is for her to know she is not alone, and that there are people out there who care about how to help her get better.