Today we share Elin's story about how she was diagnosed with endometriosis and how through lifestyle changes she was able to reduce her symptoms such as period pains, IBS problems and stomach aches. We are so happy to share Elin's story, which can contribute with inspiration, practical tips and tools for you who are going through a similar journey. This is one of the success stories we share in the book: Womensync - A life in sync with your female biology .
How has your endometriosis journey been?
At the beginning of high school, I noticed that something was not right. I had major problems with period pains in combination with classic IBS problems such as a bloated and aching stomach. My periods were heavy and I had excruciating pain in my back, legs and intercourse. During the days I had my period, I often went to the hospital because of the pain. I also noticed ovulation symptoms. The doctors suspected IBS (which is not so strange because many people with endometriosis also have stomach problems) but thanks to my amazing mother, who is also diagnosed with the disease, she quickly understood that this was not "normal period pain" as I was often told. A good rule of thumb is that if period pain is affecting and limiting your life, something is wrong. We got in touch with one of Sweden's leading doctors in the field. With my symptoms and history as a basis, I was diagnosed and operated on for endometriosis just over three years after my first symptoms.
How was your hormone treatment with endometriosis?
I started a hormone treatment in the form of a double dose of minipills. During that period I did not recognize myself. Even though the period disappeared and with it the pains, I still had problems with my stomach. I got frustrated that I didn't feel healthy. After all, that was the whole point of the operation, that I would feel good! This is where my interest in holistic health started. The doctors had done everything they could to make me feel better - now I wanted to see what I could do for myself. It was important for me to build up and strengthen my body before removing the added hormones. A bit like keeping the support wheels until it feels safe to ride without them.
Did you make any changes to your lifestyle to improve your endometriosis?
I was recommended a gluten- and lactose-free diet. It was very new to me but I gave it a shot. I remember standing in the grocery store crying and having just discovered that all my favorite products contained gluten and lactose. Geez, what I had to think about!
After a week of completely new eating habits, my stomach was so much better that I felt I just had to keep going. It was an amazing feeling to be able to improve my well-being so significantly just by choosing other foods . I wanted to see how well I could feel and became incredibly fascinated by Ayurveda, an Eastern healing art with a holistic view. I learned how the stomach plays a central role in how we feel and that one's body, psyche, emotional life and soul are all influenced by each other. After several years of testing myself and finally finding a sustainable lifestyle, I chose to go off my hormone therapy. Today I have been medication-free for five years.
Being diagnosed with endometriosis was a wake-up call for me. My interest in holistic health grew when I realized what a difference it made when I started boosting myself, both physically, spiritually and mentally. Everything went in stages, but I started to look at what triggered the disease. I started yoga, meditation and exercise in order to relax, de-stress and strengthen my body. Living under constant stress also meant that I was completely hooked on sugar, which is comical as stress and sugar negatively affect endometriosis. It was simply a vicious spiral.
Diet and endometriosis
It's so incredible when you start unraveling it, how nicely everything fits together. Instead of snacking, I started eating plenty of food, drinking lots of water and exercising. I regularly take vitamin D and at times also vitamin C, vitamin B and zinc. Today I eliminate gluten, refined sugar, red meat, semi-finished products and alcohol from my diet, but it is important for me not to become manic. Of course, I sometimes make detours such as a glass of red wine, bread and loose sweets. I think that the stress around food can stress the body as much as the food itself.
Lifestyle and endometriosis
With the help of meditation, yoga and spiritual practice, stress levels went down, my sugar cravings went down and so did the pain. I also focused on having fun. It is so underrated! I focused on spending a lot of time with friends, choosing a job that is fulfilling and spending time on what interests me rather than performance, prestige and pressure.
It took three, four years from the time I started to eat differently, review my behavior pattern and things that trigger endometriosis to the time I stopped my hormone treatment.
How life situation has an impact on endometriosis
At the time of writing, I have just come out of a stressful work situation and find myself snacking, having increased sugar cravings while things like meditation and exercise are easily prioritized. The body is telling me off and many of the symptoms I had before I stopped hormone treatment I now feel.
It's important for me not to get mad at myself or try to control the disease. Rather find my way back to what I can influence myself and feel so good about. It's an ongoing journey and for me, a healthy life has both highs and lows, like life itself. The difference now is that it is no longer about how long I manage to stay in balance, but how quickly I find my way back to a good place again.
Understanding my menstrual cycle and the different phases (physically and mentally) has also helped me reduce stress and be more accepting of my mood and energy levels.
What advice would you give to others with endometriosis?
The most important realization during my journey is that we women have an amazing ability to help ourselves feel good. Dare to trust what your body and intuition tells you. Feeling bad and in pain should not be a permanent condition.
If you are curious about Elin, you can follow her journey here .
This is a personal story from a person in the Womensync community. The same results and experience cannot be guaranteed, but depend on the person's state of health, background, lifestyle in general and genetics. Womensync does not intend to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Always consult a doctor in case of suspected illness.