Endometriosis and constipation
The topic of dealing with constipation combined with endometriosis is very close to the heart for many sufferers.
There are many accounts of this problem to be found on various endo blogs and message boards.
There is nothing worse than that bloated feeling, and feeling toxic when not being able to clear the bowels. To try and deal with this on top of the pain of endometriosis adds insult to injury.
There is also the pain from inflammation in the general pelvic cavity area, and pain/discomfort caused by gastro-intestinal symptoms.
A woman’s issue
Now let’s face it – constipation seems to be a ‘woman’s thing’. Many diseases can cause issues with constipation for various reasons.
Two facts about the female body must weigh in:
- The female intestinal tract is shorter than a man’s
- Women have very different hormones than men's
OK – what is causing the problem and what is the answer?
- You need extra fluid in the intestines. Magnesium helps to draw fluid INTO the gut and will help to soften the stools.
- Extra Vitamin C will help as it has a mild laxative effect
- And one of the biggest things that will help will be to take a probiotic every day of a decent strength. Probiotics will help to repair any damage done to the friendly bacteria in your gut.
- Also, when you have a laparoscopy for endometriosis you will be given a bowel prep medication to take before the operation. This usually consists of a powder that cleans the out the gut … thoroughly!!! This will also strip out the good bacteria.
- The friendly bacteria can be killed off by anti-biotics, stress, bad diet
- Many women with endometriosis have been prescribed anti-biotics for the early mis-diagnosis of IBS, therefore the intake of these drugs will have undermined the health of the immune system even further
- Taking good bacteria supplements will repair the balance and over time will eradicate the bad bacteria.
- Most of these bacteria are found in the colon. It is estimated that together, all the bacteria in your gut weigh between three and five pounds. Each bowel movement contains a large amount of these critters, with one to two-thirds the dry weight of stool being solely bacteria. (1)
- The gut flora actually works in concert with the immune system in order to help it grow and develop, and to help fight bacterial and other infections.
- A whole host of health conditions can be traced back to poor gut ecology. Gut problems, including gas, bloating, constipation, Crohn’s, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and ulcerative colitis can all be improved through a better gut ecosystem.(2)
To sum up
To help with constipation and have the added benefit of a healthy gut and immune system:
- Take a magnesium supplement – experiment on the strength of dosage
- A good quality probiotic – every day
- Top up with extra vitamin C if you are feeling really clogged up!
- Balance your intake of fibre between soluble and non-soluble fibre foods - the soluble fibre will help to keep you gut hydrated with fluid, while non-soluble fibre will absorb fluid and slow the transit of waste through your system
Note: Approximately 80% of your immune system is dependent on a healthy digestive system. And it is your immune system that will help you tackle endometriosis.
Also note: In healthy women who DO NOT HAVE ENDOMETRIOSIS – the immune system will mop up stray cells from the endometrium (which happens in a lot women) – the same cells that go on to cause endometriosis.
So, if you are suffering the problem of constipation with endometriosis try the measures above, and try getting some relaxation/you time, and taking some light exercise will also help your digestion.
(1) Guarner F, Malagelada JR. Gut flora in health and disease. Lancet. 2003 Feb 8;361(9356):512-9.
(2) Guarner F, Malagelada JR. Role of bacteria in experimental colitis. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2003 Oct;17(5):793-804.
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