1 in 10 women suffer from Endometriosis and around 40% of these women will have IBS. The connection between these conditions is not yet clear. What research is finding however is that the low FODMAP diet works to reduce bowel symptoms in women who have Endometriosis and IBS.
What’s the go with Endo?
It is fantastic that Endometriosis is finally getting exposed as a condition that needs some serious attention by health practitioners, researchers and society. In a nut shell Endo occurs when the cells in the lining of the uterus (the bit that is usually shed during a period) somehow ends up in places it shouldn’t. This includes the ovaries, fallopian tubes, ligaments in the pelvis and large intestine, bladder, vagina and in rare cases the lungs. While this may not seem like a huge deal – IT IS! Symptoms can be really terrible and affect every aspect of daily life including:
- SEVERE period pain and often heavy bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Extraordinary fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Pain going to the toilet
- Lower back and pelvic pain
- Mood changes
- Changes in bowel habits (constipation and diarrhoea)
If you want a first hand insight into what it can be like living with endometriosis I highly recommend listening to the No Filter podcast with Syl Freedman, an endometriosis sufferer and co-founder of EndoActive.
What can the low FODMAP diet do?
Due to the many symptoms that overlap between IBS and Endometriosis including bloating, altered bowel habits, abdominal pain and reduced quality of life, the low FODMAP diet is a logical solution due to its success in just IBS suffers. A key common symptom in both IBS and Endometriosis is visceral hypersensitivity, which is a term to basically describe pain in the inner organs. This pain is thought to be caused by too much water and gas in the large bowel. How does the water and gas get in there?
Here is the basic cycle:
- High FODMAP foods are eaten (e.g. wheat, rye, mango, milk, honey) and travel down to the small intestine.
- Some FODMAPS are not digested properly
- They keep going down to the large bowel (where they technically shouldn’t go) drawing water with them along the way. The bacteria there gobble them up producing methane, hydrogen and carbon. These are the gases which cause bloating and pain to the sensitive intestine.
So, in following the low FODMAP diet we can find out what foods are causing the issues, cut them out and stop some of the uncomfortable symptoms of Endo and IBS in their tracks!
The low FODMAP diet is different for EVERYONE depending on what they are sensitive too. It is not supposed to be really restrictive and requires the guidance of a FODMAP trained dietitian. Good thing is we have some great ones here at The FODMAP Challenge as well as an online course you can do from home.
By: Sarah Gulliver
Image sourced from pinterest.
1. Moore JS, Gibson PR, Perry RE, et al. Endometriosis in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: Specific symptomatic and demographic profile, and response to the low FODMAP diet. Aust N A J Obstet Gynaecol. 2017;57:201-205.