Reflexology and Endometriosis
Endometriosis has been brought to the public eye in recent months by actress Lena Dunham sharing her story about taking the radical decision to have a hysterectomy with the hope to stop the crippling pain she has experienced for years. Hers is a very severe case, and not all women have the same degree of symptoms, however it does highlight a very under-diagnosed and under-recognised issue that affects the lives of an estimated 1 in 10 women.
A survey by Endometriosis UK reports that it takes on average 7.5 years to be diagnosed. This is because there are so many different symptoms, most of which can be ascribed to other less serious menstrual imbalances. Sadly women are often simply put on the pill to manage their symptoms without further investigation. Long term this can lead to fertility problems: 30-50% of women with fertility issues have endometriosis.
There are a wide range of symptoms that women can experience including:
· Abdominal and/or lower back pain
· Poor digestion and bloating
· Heavy bleeding at menstruation
· Thrush and/or cystitis
· Painful intercourse
· Painful bowel and/or bladder
· Fertility issues
These symptoms of endometriosis are caused by some of the lining of the womb migrating outside of the womb instead of shedding via the vagina. This tissue remains in the pelvic cavity and can adhere to other pelvic organs such as the ovaries, bowel and bladder. It also responds to the hormones of our menstrual cycle in the same way it would inside of the womb.
Why endo occurs is not clearly understood by the medical profession other than it is an autoimmune disease. It is considered to be incurable. Conventional treatment usually consists of pain medications, hormonal treatment such as the pill and ultimately surgery. All of these treatments, while being able to manage some of the symptoms, ultimately do not provide a cure and come with their own risks of side effects. It has been reported that once drugs and surgery are stopped, symptoms usually recur within 18 months, and none of the conventional treatments improve your fertility.
This is why an holistic approach to tackling endometriosis is essential whether you are receiving conventional treatment or not.
So how can Reflexology help?
Very simply, reflexology can bring you into a state of deep relaxation which puts your nervous system into its rest and repair mode. This will help to support your immune system, digestion, reduce pain and encourage hormonal balance. I have seen many women’s menstrual problems resolve through regular treatment and some lifestyle changes, diet is especially important with endometriosis, as is avoiding hormone disrupting chemicals in toiletries.
What clients have reported to me about the effect reflexology has had on them include:
· Cycle is more regular
· Less PMT
· Reduction in pain
· Bleeding less heavy
· Better digestion
· Improved moods
I have found over many years of practice, and working in recent years with specific menstrual awareness, that often issues with our cycles can be a signal that our lives are not in balance. Our wombs are a wonder of nature (such as being the strongest muscle in a human body!) and can be a good barometer of our stress and general wellbeing.
Rather than seeing a menstrual issue simply as a problem, it can be helpful to see it as a message too. If we can respond to this message with self care and love and not see your body as the enemy, many women find their symptoms reduce without medication. I have known some women live years virtually symptom free once they know how to take care of themselves.
I offer various kinds of support for women with menstrual issues:
If you are interested in working consciously with your cycle, you are welcome to join my Four Seasons Facebook group for ongoing free support and information.
You can find details of where and when I see reflexology clients here.
I also teach a well-woman yoga class which is womb conscious and suitable for women living with endometriosis.