COVID-19 Update We're back and we've missed you!!! Online booking is now available so schedule by clicking the link below or call (312) 321-0004 to book your appointment. TeleTCM virtual appointments will continue to be available.

  • How Stage IV Endometriosis forced me to find my voice

    My first period came in January 1998. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in eighth grade and I remember saying the cruelest thing I have EVER said to my Mom. I cursed her for making me be born a girl. I still to this day feel awful for those words having left my mouth, as my Mom is the most amazing mother in the world. 

    In high school and college, I would pass out from the debilitating pain and friends, roommates, and loved ones many times would find me in the fetal position just trying to breathe through the pain. What I learned from an early age from classmates, girlfriends, and women in my life is that we as women experience painful periods and it’s just part of being a woman. We (women) all experience this excruciating pain. 

    I went on for the next 20 years thinking it was completely normal to feel stabbing pain for 2-4 days every 28 days. I learned quickly that heating pads and Ibuprofen were my best friend. I always felt that this pain was not normal, but nobody outside of my Mom truly understood and believed me. It was in college where I first learned about Endometriosis and thought, hey I think this is what this pain is all about. 

    From 2007-2018, I saw nine doctors. Most of the doctors I saw, all said similar things, “We’re women, we’re used to dealing with pain. Every woman has painful periods.” Unfortunately, there were only two doctors who truly listened and believed me when I said I think I have Endometriosis. I felt defeated and crazy. I thought all these doctors are telling me this is normal that I feel like I am being stabbed in my uterus each month. I must be making this pain up. I was just surviving month-to-month and most definitely not thriving. As women we have an incredible gift of intuition, so trust that, trust that you know your body better than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to speak up!

    My husband and I began our fertility journey 6 years ago. We tried naturally for 1½ years with no success. After 4 failed IUIs, 4 failed IVF transfers, and 3 miscarriages, I asked my doctor for more answers. She suggested two things: first was to do the Yoga for Fertility program with Beth Heller at Pulling Down the Moon. This was the first time I had been shown how to tune in and listen to my body in a supportive female community. I had never been so seen and loved within the fertility community. I have friends for life from that Yoga for Fertility program.

    Second, my doctor suggested I see an Endometriosis specialist. I had excision surgery in November 2018. My surgery should have taken a max of 1-2 hours, instead I woke up 6 hours later to hearing news from my husband. My husband said “I have good and bad news, which would you like to hear first?” I said, “I want the good news first”. He said, “you were right, you have stage IV Endometriosis and bad news it was so extensive they removed your left fallopian tube.” Even though this news was the worst case scenario with Endometriosis, it was a blessing in disguise. 

    Hearing I was right and in fact did have Endometriosis, was the best news I had received in 20 years. I had finally felt heard, seen, and my opinions were valued. This new information changed everything for me and my fertility doctors. My doctors could now move forward with adjusting my fertility medications and procedure process based on my Endometriosis diagnosis. 

    I know many would be angry having a body that made you feel debilitating pain every 28 days. However, I am incredibly grateful for my Endometriosis journey because it has forced me to find my voice and learn how to advocate for myself and my body. I have also been able to share this information with my nutritionist who can better assist me. It takes practice and time in silence to tune in with our bodies and listen to what it needs and craves. Remember, you are the ONLY one who knows your body inside and out and no one else will advocate as fiercely for you or your body the way that YOU can.

    About the author: Kasia has been a part of the PDTM community since March 2016. She has been trying to conceive for 6+ years, has had 5 failed IUIs, 7 failed IVF transfers, experienced 4 miscarriages, and has Stage IV Endometriosis. She is in the midst of her last and final IVF retrieval and transfer AND beginning her adoption and possible surrogacy journey. She is thriving as a Fertility Coach by empowering, supporting, and inspiring women on their fertility journeys. You can find her blog and contact information over at www.CoachingwithKasia.com

    Learn how Pulling Down the Moon can provide community and support on your journey!  Check our calendar for events today!

    Photograph by Anna Stidham

    Kasia S. McGuire

    Fertility Coach

    www.CoachingwithKasia.com

    Instagram: @KasiaSMcGuire

    Mobile: (773) 844-2117

    Email: CoachingwithKasia@gmail.com

  • Can Acupuncture Help Treat My Endometriosis?

    Endometriosis is a condition in which the endometrial tissue that normally makes up the uterine lining, is displaced and found outside the uterus. This can present with an array of symptoms which includes painful periods, ovarian cysts, heavy periods, spotting before the period, and/or even infertility. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be very effective in treating it.
    According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) endometriosis is a condition that is termed as “blood stagnation”, and your acupuncture practitioner will determine the cause of it after your initial consultation. It can arise from the body’s inability to properly absorb the old stuck blood that is lingering in body. There are a myriad of acupuncture points and herbs which help break up this stagnant blood as well as strengthen the body so that it can deal effectively with the problem. The general recommendation is to come in for weekly acupuncture for at least 3 menstrual cycles. Herbs help accent the acupuncture’s therapeutic effect and treat on another level. The most notable changes that are observed, is a reduction or elimination of painful periods, regulate cycles so that there is no spotting before the onset of the period, shrink ovarian cysts, reduce the excessive flow of blood during the period, and helps increase the odds of pregnancy in those trying to conceive.
    In addition to acupuncture and herbs, it is highly recommended that the patient seek a nutrition consultation with us. In TCM we advise patients with endometriosis to have an anti-inflammatory diet, which means avoiding foods that are spicy, deep-fried, dairy, ice-cold foods/drinks, beef, grapefruits, raw foods, and do not over-eat. Include foods like dark leafy greens, chicken, pork, mint or jasmine tea, beets, seaweed, zucchini, asparagus, berries, apples, eat until you feel 80% full, to name a few helpful tips. Please feel free to email me with any questions in regards to acupuncture and the treatment of endometriosis at anna@pullingdownthemoon.com. I am available Tuesdays and Fridays at the Chicago location, but our office is open everyday of the week in the city for acupuncture appointments.  We have Acupuncture, Massage, Nutrition, Yoga available in Chicago, Highland Park, and Buffalo Grove.  Call us to learn more at: 312-321-0004 today!
    Anna Pyne LAc, MSOM, FABORM

  • Nutrition Strategies for Endometriosis

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, and today we’re sharing some nutrition tips to support endometriosis. If you have endometriosis, work with your doctor on an appropriate treatment plan, but try these lifestyle tips to help manage your endometriosis as well:

    The omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, have anti-inflammatory properties and thus may help reduce inflammation in endometriosis. Cold water fatty fish and fish oil supplements are the best sources. In addition, taking omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy may help to prevent preterm labor and are important for baby’s developing brain and vision. Fish oil is great, but we shouldn’t forget about also eating seafood, which is very nutrient rich and supportive of fertility and a healthy pregnancy. It’s just important to focus on low mercury fish and limit to 12 oz per week. Some good choices include wild salmon, sardines, whitefish, herring, and oysters.

    Consider a trial of a gluten free diet. One study showed that a gluten free diet helped to reduce endometriosis pain. Gluten is in wheat, rye, and barley and relatives of wheat like spelt and kamut. Instead substitute naturally gluten free grains and starches like quinoa, sweet potatoes, potatoes, butternut/acorn squash, brown rice, and legumes.

    Maximize your fruit and vegetable intake. This one is a no-brainer, as high fruit and vegetable is associated with better overall health and reduction in risk for many chronic diseases. Aim to include vegetables with both lunch and dinner and breakfast when possible. Include fruit to satisfy sweet cravings after meals or paired with protein at snacks.

    Want to learn more?  Schedule with a nutritionist today!

    Sources:

    1. Halpern G, et al. Nutritional aspects related to endometriosis. Rev Assoc Med Bras. 2015; 61(6): 519-23.
    2. Marziali M, et al. Gluten-free diet: a new strategy for management of painful endometriosis related symptoms? Minerva Chir. 2012;67(6): 499-504.

     

  • My Mother’s Battle with Endometriosis

    by Meredith Nathan, LMT

    My mother suffered from endometriosis for most of her adult life. She was riddled with extreme pain every time she had her period. She was put on heavy doses of birth control to control it, but the drugs made her feel crazy, and created more issues than they solved. To add insult to injury, she found it difficult to conceive and even harder to stay pregnant. Two miscarriages later, she said she felt like she was at war with her own body.

    ‘For many, pregnancy is a cure,’ her doctor informed her. The irony of the comment wasn’t lost on her. The truth is that endo then, as well as now, has a lot of mystery surrounding it. Endometriosis, the expansion of the uterine lining onto the surrounding organs and tissues, can create extensive bleeding and scar tissue in the abdomen. Symptoms run the gamut: one woman can be walking around completely unaware that she has endo, while another may be begging her partner to put her out of her misery every time she gets her monthly visitor. Theories on why it occurs range from estrogen dominance and hormonal imbalance to structural abnormalities and retrograde bleeding during menstruation to migrating fetal cells. And since the extreme pain it can cause is often misunderstood as severe menstrual cramps (and the only way it’s diagnosed is through surgery), many women don’t know they have it until they find themselves unable to conceive

    There is currently no known cure for endometriosis (other than menopause). But there are ways to handle the scar tissue and pain associated with it. In my mother’s case, the endo required two painful surgeries. But for others, massage may offer a gentler solution. Massage can help break up scar tissue from previous internal bleeding – Mercier Therapy, a deep gyno-visceral massage manipulation, has been shown to be extremely effective at breaking up scar tissue associated with endometriosis. Massage can also help to soften the stiff abdominal tissue often associated with endo. And as it relieves congestion it may also release endorphins and dopamine in the body, helping to diminish pain. In one study, researchers recorded pain relief data for people with endometriosis who underwent massage therapy treatments for six weeks, ultimately finding significant levels of pain relief.

    My mother’s story ends happily. Despite the pain, the drugs, and the surgeries, she ultimately had two healthy children. But back in the 1970’s she didn’t have access to the resources and information we have today. Could there have been a gentler way to handle her endometriosis? Due to it’s severity, my mother would most likely have needed surgery anyways. But massage could have provided a wonderful compliment to her treatment plan with her doctor, providing additional tools for relieving congestion and scar tissue. It could have eased her pain and created a sense of well-being. And perhaps in nurturing her belly with positive touch, it could have helped her find peace with the body she so often felt at war with…

    Learn more about the benefits of massage for endometriosis here . Here is more about how acupuncture can assist with pain from endometriosis here and nutrition can manage symptoms here .  Have questions for Meredith regarding how these specialized massages can support your journey?  Reach out at: meredith@pullingdownthemoon.com.