How I Beat Adenomyosis, Naturally
(This article was originally a guest post on Laura’s wonderful website, EasingEndo. Please take a moment to check out her site).
The adenomyosis diagnosis
In January of 2016, I began experiencing the alarming symptoms of heavy bleeding mid-cycle (the first time for me), terrible cramping, extreme bloating, debilitating lower back pain. And profound sadness. After a vaginal ultrasound, my gynecologist called me over the phone. All in one breath, she told me half-heartedly that I had adenomyosis, it was a progressive disease, and I could try synthetic progesterone, but since that usually didn’t work my only hope was to have a hysterectomy. As this was no big deal. The phone call lasted less than five minutes.
I was devastated. I was not ready to part ways with my womb. It’s a major organ, part of what makes me woman. And even though it is touted as a very common surgery, the side effects never mentioned by medical professionals, I didn’t trust this as my only option.
Researching natural options
Luckily, I already had experience in medical and nutritional research and I was sure there had to be another way. I spent the rest of the year learning everything I could about adenomyosis, and its related endometriosis, and taking care of my body as best I could.
I learned a bit about how hormones work in our body and that fixing adenomyosis (as well as endometriosis and other gynecological problems like PCOS and fibroids) can be done, if we fix our hormones.
I already had a thyroid disorder (thyroid has its own set of hormones), so I worked with a different doctor to get my thyroid back to normal levels.
I learned about estrogen dominance and how to rid my body of excess estrogen (dandelion root tea and magnesium worked for me), as well as prevent it from getting out of balance again (live “clean”). And I learned how stress, which produces cortisol, can mess with our hormones as well.
The importance of reducing stress
It turns out that for me, stress was my biggest problem. I was already eating a healthy (paleo) diet, and I believe this helped me to heal faster.
It took me a while to realize that Crossfit, a high intensity workout regime that requires lifting a lot of weights, was causing my body too much physical stress to recover between sessions. This might have been because I was on a low-carb diet, or because I had a pre-existing thyroid disorder or autoimmunity, or all of the above. Either way, when I became too exhausted to get out of bed and couldn’t walk upstairs without pain, I decided to take a break.
A few months later, I started to feel relief. When I was ready, I did go back to exercise, but chose more gentle forms: yoga and gardening, walking in the woods, swimming and paddle-boarding in the summer. And making sure not to overdo it (something I often did prior to my diagnosis).
The impact of ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’
The other big stressor in my life, which took me time to realize (I thank meditation for helping me discover it), was that I had “Adverse Childhood Experiences.” I scored a 4 on the ACE test, and though I always knew deep down inside that I’d had a difficult childhood, I thought I was tough, resilient, that everything was in the past. That I had moved on.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The body remembers things our mind has conveniently tucked away.
Through journaling (which is now turning into a creative non-fiction book–stay tuned), poetry, and therapy (EMDR, Sensorimotor psychotherapy), I was able to access old, hurtful memories, free them, and train my body to respond less, physically, to perceived threats.
I also found the strength to confront my father, the perpetrator of lifelong emotional abuse, when I found him attempting to emotionally abuse my children. When I asked him to respect some boundaries, he refused. This not only reinforced the fact he didn’t respect other people’s boundaries, it also (after a year of being patient with him and waiting for him to say yes to my boundaries), forced me to send him a “No Contact” letter, meaning, I once and for all had to shut him out of my life.
While it was a long and painful year, shutting him out of my life meant that I could finally finish healing, something I hadn’t let my body do for a lifetime. It also meant that my children would be safe from emotional abuse and thus chronic disease later in life.
Relief without surgery
About a year after my diagnosis, I had completely reversed the symptoms of adenomyosis and avoided a hysterectomy, without ever having to do synthetic hormone therapy or surgery of any kind. And I’m still symptom-free three years, later.
Even my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) symptoms, which I’ve had most of my life—including food allergies, and inflammatory reactions to certain foods—have lessened significantly. I do still have more work to do in this area, though. A lifetime of holding in difficult emotions, surely can’t be cured in a few short months. So I’m learning to be patient with myself.
Get in touch
I started a Facebook group to help others like me, and have begun compiling my research into a document that you can access from the group. Maybe one day it will turn into a book. My personal story is already turning into one—a non-fiction novel about chronic disease, family estrangement and building one’s own self-esteem (sign up in the right sidebar to find out when it becomes available).
I hope you find my research, my story and my experience inspiring enough to do whatever you need to do in order to heal your body (mind, and soul). I truly believe it’s possible, if you have the willpower. I believe you have the power to heal yourself, and deep down inside, you may already know some of what is causing your system distress. You just need a few people, yourself included, to believe in you. I do!
2 People reacted on this
Heather, I can’t believe how similar our stories are. I found your group in 2019 when I got married and was desperate because of my pain. Thanks to all your recommendations and answers I feel much better now. My father was extremely emotionally abusive on top of being an alcoholic since I was a teenager. This and sexual abuse I experienced from a family member made me feel less feminine thinking I was to blame. My father died last December and I stopped being in touch with the person who abused me. I’m still working on this and it’s hard to find a good therapist but I’m hopeful.
I can’t express how much you helped me during all these years and I want you to know that your opinion matters to me. I can’t wait to read your book and I actually always wanted to write too but my language barrier is holding me back 🙂
Thank you so much for your impact in my life. Every time I start doubting myself and thinking about going back to hormones or talking to the surgeon I just remember you and your story gives me hope.
First, I’m sorry for all that you’ve had to go through. It was hard enough for us as children, then hard again when it comes back around in adulthood through different manifestations. I hope you find the right therapy. I highly recommend The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk. But now that you are separated from your abuser, I believe your healing will progress. Just give yourself time and be kind to yourself. Every day, every hour. Meditate daily and you might catch yourself saying unkind things. Don’t berate yourself for saying unkind things. Just tell yourself kind things instead. Tell yourself that you love yourself. And that you deserve to be loved just because. Because you exist.
Second, I’ve heard again and again of so many women with endo and adeno having also had adverse childhood experiences. So know that you’re not alone. But I’m so glad that you’re doing better now.