Endometriosis: A Common Threat With Still No Cure
(BlackDoctor.org) — “I’m 29 years old and my life feels like it’s upside down,” says Ellen P., who has a history of unbearable crippling cramps, low back pain and flooding with her periods – that’s only been getting worse since she stopped taking birth control pills three years ago.
A medication called Naproxen helps her, but the pain is still disturbing. Most months, she feels like she should stay in bed during her periods. Sometimes, she actually has to. She has also been unable to get pregnant, even though she’s stopped taking the pill.
Unfortunately, Ellen’s complaints are commonly found in women. The common diagnosis? Endometriosis, which can affect women and teens of all ages, even those as young as 10 and as old as 70.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus is displaced other parts of the body. Called lesions, implants or growths, this displaced endometrial tissue commonly develops somewhere in the abdomen, typically involving the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surface of the uterus and/or lining of the pelvic cavity. These growths can cause infertility, painful intercourse, and irregular or heavy periods. Additional symptoms include abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and leg pains that coincide with the menstrual cycle.
What Causes Endometriosis?
The cause of endometriosis is not 100% known; however, research spearheaded by the Endometriosis Association has shown that environmental toxins such as dioxin from paper mills, refineries, factories and PCB, which all act like hormones in the body and damage the immune system, can cause endometriosis.
How Do You Find Out If You Have Endometriosis?
The diagnosis of endometriosis is generally considered uncertain until proven by laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive or band-aid surgical procedure done under anesthesia. In this procedure, the abdomen is distended with carbon dioxide gas, to make the organs easier to see, and a laparoscope (telescope with a light in it) is inserted into a tiny incision in the abdomen. This is generally done as an outpatient procedure.
Many women are either misdiagnosed — or not diagnosed at all. The situation tends to be worse for women of color.
How Is Endometriosis Treated?
Treatment for endometriosis has varied over the year, and there is no definitive cure. Painkillers are usually prescribed for pain. Treatment usually involves surgery, which consists of burning, or cutting out the lesions. Hormonal medication can be given after surgery, with the goal of stopping ovulation for as long as possible and forcing the disease into remission. Hormonal treatment includes danazol, GnRH drugs, progesterone and aromatase inhibitors.
Nutritional approaches have also been used, along with herbs, vitamins, and traditional Chinese medicine.
If you or someone that you know have heavy menstrual periods, severe cramps, low back or leg pains, nausea and other bothersome symptoms that coincide with your menstrual. Read about endometriosis and see a physician.
By Dr. Leonard Weather, Jr., NMA President
Dr. Leonard Weather is currently the president of the NMA, as well as a gynecologist, specializing in infertility, fibroids, pelvic pain and endometriosis. Dr. Weather is a health educator, ordained minister, painter and photographer. He is the publisher of the Dr. Weather Report, a monthly healthcare eNewsletter and he has authored three inspirational poetry books and an infertility handbook.
Learn More About Endometriosis:
The Endometriosis Association has tons of information, as well as local support groups: http://www.endometriosisassn.org/
National Institute of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/Endometriosis.cfm
National Women’s Health Information Center, US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health: www.womenshealth.gov/faq/endometriosis.cfm
Fight Cellulite With Yoga
Can you really fight cellulite with yoga?
You’re really not sure how it happened, but one day you looked in the mirror and there it was—cellulite, creeping up on your legs and butt just in time for swimsuit season. Happily, there’s a speedy way to smooth those bumps and lumps.
Do this 20-minute sequence three days a week—plus 30 minutes of vigorous cardio, four times a week—and you’ll see smoother skin in just six weeks.
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Thanks to all those days spent sitting, fat pushes through weakened spots in the connective tissue beneath skin. But rebuilding muscle tone in those trouble spots and burning excess fat can help smooth out cellulite and prevent future dimpling.
Let’s get started:
1. Standing forward bend
Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Hinge forward at the hips, keeping a slight bend in your knees. Lay your chest on your upper thighs as you let your head fall toward the ground. Engage quadriceps muscles and slowly straighten legs, making sure your knees don’t lock and your hips stay over the center of your feet. Hold for 5–8 slow, deep breaths.
2. Chair pose
Stand with feet together, big toes touching, and ankles slightly apart. Bend at the knees, sitting hips back (as if into a chair) and lifting your chest up to the sky. At the same time, reach your arms up by your ears and lengthen through the fingertips, keeping shoulders relaxed and ab muscles held in.
Sit back as far as you can; aim to make up to a 90-degree angle with your legs (a shallower angle is fine—go as far as is comfortable) while keeping your back from rounding and knees from going past your toes. Hold for 5–8 breaths before standing up; repeat 3 more times.
3. Eagle pose
Bend your knees slightly and cross your right leg over your left leg high at the thigh, then try to double cross it behind the left calf or ankle. Wrap your right arm under your left and back over top; press your palms together.
Squeeze thighs tight and pull your belly to your spine while you sink lower, bending slightly at the knee and a bit forward at the waist. Hold for 5 breaths, then repeat with arms and legs reversed.
Make it easier: If double-crossing your legs is too challenging, cross just once at the thigh and rest your top foot’s toes on the ground for balance. If your shoulders are too tight to double-cross your arms, wrap under only and press the backs of your hands together.
4. Warrior III
Standing with your feet together, point left toe behind you, tipping weight forward onto right leg. Continue to lift your left leg and drop head and torso until you are in a straight horizontal line from head to toe; keep hands at sides. Make sure your left thigh, hip, and toes (pointed or flexed) stay facing downward; imagine balancing a tea cup on your lower back. Keep right kneecap lifted (not locked) and balance centered midfoot. Hold for 5 breaths, slowly return to standing, then switch legs and repeat.
Make it easier: If balancing on one leg is a challenge, reach your arms out to the side like airplane wings to help you keep your balance. Or, hang on to the back of a chair or reach out and touch a wall. The important thing is to keep your back flat and your body in a straight line.
5. High lunge with a twist
Standing with feet together, press hands into prayer position at center of chest. Tighten abs and lunge left foot back so right knee is directly above right ankle. Hinge chest forward as you twist, from the waist, to the right.
Rest left elbow just outside right knee, keeping hips level and facing forward. Look up past right elbow; hold for 5–8 breaths. Bring torso back to center, lift chest, and return to standing; repeat with legs reversed.
Make it easier: Keep your back knee on the floor if you’re wobbling around too much during the twist.
6. Cow face pose
Start on your hands and knees, and slide your right leg back to cross over your left leg, squeezing high at the inner thighs. Open your feet out to the sides of your hips, and sit back between your heels. You will feel a great release in your hips and butt and a gentle stretching of the thighs. Hold this posture for as long as you like, at least 8–10 breaths, then switch legs and repeat.
Make it easier: Place some padding or a yoga block under your butt if you’re very tight in the hips or have knee problems. You can also come into this pose from a seated position with legs out in front; just be sure to cross your legs high enough at the upper thighs.
7. Bridge pose
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on a mat, hip-distance apart. Press down into your feet, and lift your hips and butt off the ground. Push your shoulders down away from your ears and interlace hands under your hips, pressing fists into mat. Tighten hamstring, butt, and core muscles, and hold for 5–8 breaths. Lower slowly to the ground, then repeat 2 more times.
8. Supported shoulder stand
Lie on a mat with a folded blanket or second mat under shoulders so neck and head are 1–2 inches lower than shoulders. Pushing palms against mat at your sides, bend knees. Lift feet, butt, and lower back off mat and reach legs overhead, aiming toes toward the ground behind you.
Pushing back farther off the ground, bend elbows and place palms against lower back for support as you lift legs and reach feet toward ceiling. Be sure weight is distributed evenly across shoulder blades and back of head. Stop if you feel pressure on neck. Hold for 30 seconds; gradually work up to 5 minutes. Note: Do only if you have yoga experience; otherwise, do “Make It Easier” version (below).
Make it easier: Snuggle your back and butt up to a wall, then twist around so legs are straight up the wall while you lie back on the ground. (Your butt should still be tight up against where the wall meets the ground.) Press your thighs into the wall as you keep your feet parallel and slightly flexed; hold for 5 minutes.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Fitness center for more articles and tips.