Padma Lakshmi ("Top Chef"), Susan Sarandon ("The Big Wedding"), Whoopi Goldberg ("The View") and another 100 million women worldwide contend with endometriosis, a condition in which endometrial cells (that line the uterus) grow outside the uterus, causing adhesions, scarring, severe pain and a 30 percent to 40 percent risk of infertility.
Even though 10 percent of all women develop endometriosis, we're just beginning to understand the causes: possibly a combination of immune-system misfires, exposure to environmental toxins (like hormone disrupters in plastics), plus a genetic predisposition.
Effective nonmedical treatments are emerging, but until recently, only hormone therapy, pain pills and surgery were offered, at a cost of $22 billion a year!
- Stress reduction. Life stressors can aggravate immune-system misfires and amplify pain, so it's important to meditate regularly (RealAge.com has instructions). Also, acupuncture, biofeedback and massage may ease stress and discomfort.
- Vitamins E (1,200 IU of mixed tocopherols) and C (1,000 mg) daily. One study reports a 43 percent reduction in everyday pain and a 25 percent reduction in painful sex within eight weeks. Check with your doc if you are taking a statin or have smoked, as this amount of vitamin E may cause problems.
- Eliminate all trans fats and boost your intake of omega-3s. Eat salmon and ocean trout two to three times a week and take 900 IU of DHA from algal oil daily. In one study, women with the highest intake of trans fats were 48 percent more likely - and those with the highest intake of omega-3s were 22 percent LESS likely - to develop endometriosis!