Early this year, I had the worst of my adenomyosis symptoms. I was heavily bleeding [think at least 10 CR trips a day + half fist-sized blood clots + more or less 20 pads in 3 days] and had excruciating pain around my pelvic area and lower back for more than five days.
WARNING: gross picture!
This is my normal, especially on the first two days of my period.
Generally, only my family members know the extent of my suffering. It's mostly my mother who bears witness to this. Last January, however, a few friends saw first hand what it was like for me whenever I have my regular period. They witnessed and, now had an idea, what state I am usually in whenever I send help SMS. One friend even had to suffer through my let's-dance-to-rid-the-pain moment and pathetic moment at the ER of Velez Hospital in the wee hours of the night.
While I've suffered from this condition over the years, I've somehow came to accept that THAT was my norm. But that January episode made me rethink everything. I've been on depo injections to numerous oral contraceptives and nothing has really changed. I'm OK for three months or so, then I'm back to popping pills to enduring my symptoms. I've also changed OBs several times, and all were consistent about their prognosis: I WON'T DIE from my condition, and it will all be gone once I hit menopause (yay!) but I will just have to endure the bleeding and pain symptoms whenever I have my period [and NO, what i have is not normal dysmenorrhea, and NO, the pain is not in my head, and I'm not being a baby about it--the pain is real! I've high tolerance for pain, and for me to complain about pain only means that I'm in deep shit; somehow, making me understand why (dr.) HOUSE got hooked on Vicodin].
Anyway, given the prognosis, and the recent health scare that what I have may lead to uterine cancer, I told myself to give up on pharmacology and try changing my diet. A lot of women who have adenomyosis or endometriosis swore that changing their diet helped them a lot. True, the condition is still there, but at least, the diet helped curbed their symptoms--making life more tolerable and bearable for them. Since I was twelve years old (the first time I had my symptoms [I had my period at 10], and when I was diagnosed at 23, I relied on pills and mefenamic acid to control my symptoms. I never once considered altering my diet. HAHA! I'm a food lover. I love to eat, and it's usually the unhealthy ones i consume a lot of. As I live alone and too lazy to cook, I normally subsist on fast food, sandwiches, easy-to-cook pastas, instant noodles, breads, eggs, eggs, eggs, and canned tuna. Whenever i eat out, it's usually crispy pata, pastas, and grilled pork. I'm not a vegetable eater.
So when I got out of the ER that fateful January 10, I vowed to, at least, give altering my diet a chance. I revisited a book that I purchased a few years back from Amazon entitled Endometriosis: A Key to Healing and Fertility Through Nutrition. While the cases presented in the book involved mostly American women and naturally their food was different, this book still has been a great help in providing emotional support. It tells me that I'm not alone in this plight, and I'm not being a hypochondriac.
I also revisited old notes I had before from yahoosupport groups and fora on the condition (I don't think the groups are still active though), and hit on Google to come up with this list from various sites:
INCREASE INTAKE OF THE FOLLOWING:
- evening primrose oil *taking this thrice daily
- walnut oil
- flax seeds/oil
- eat whole grains except WHEAT or RYE
*as breads, biscuits, pastas are mostly made from WHEAT flour, I've avoided eating them. Completely bread- and biscuit-free. I cheat on the pastas from time to time since I love pastas, so this will take me a while to fully give up
- eat more beans, peas, & pulses
- brown rice
*If I'm at home, I can manage with the brown rice. However, I cannot keep up with having brown rice all the time though because they're expensive; but when dining out, NO.
- oatmeal * I try to only have oatmeal for breakfast, but with work, it's quite difficult since I need more energy to sustain the workday. So quite not there yet.
- mustard greens *sometimes this
- cabbage *mostly this for me
- saturated fats
- animal or organ meat *Am now using Olive oil for cooking or extra virgin oil for salads. But sometimes, I cheat also, hehe . . . as it's expensive.
FOODS TO AVOID
- WHEAT (breads, cakes, pasta products, all based on wheat)
*Goodbye, Jollibee pancakes and Red ribbon meals
- red meats because they promote (-) prostaglandins, which causes pain
*I can't give up my meat, so only taking them minimally, as in minimally just to have a taste; but goodbye burgers for me, another favorite)
- refined and concentrated carbo (bread, flour, cakes from refined flours
- refined sugars and honey because they cause inflammatory reactions
- alcohol as it consumes vitamin B stored in the liver. No idea what's the vitamin B for. So no more beer or wine for me. At least, this is very easy as I'm not a heavy drinker.
- chocolates [contains sugars]
*I love chocolates, but have given them up
- dairy produce including all milk and cheese (inflammatory)
*Goodbye, fresh milk and pizza for me. Having difficulty giving up eggs as I love them, but have been slowly avoiding them. Goodbye, Mc Do and KFC
- fried food, margarine, hydrogenated fats (stimulate (-) prostaglandin)
*Tinola (fish soup with tomato & spring onions) and inun-unan na isda (fish cooked in vinegar or paksiw) for me mostly
- soy products and soy protein products
- tinned, frozen, packaged foods
*Goodbye, canned tuna, bacon, and corned beef
- additives and preservatives increase chemical load on the system)
*Goodbye, hot-and-spicy pancit canton, bulalo-flavor noodles, and junk food
NOTE: MEAT, DAIRY and EGGS PROMOTE the pro-inflammatory prostaglandins
Generally, this diet tries to lower the body's estrogen level. Without going into details, it appears that increased levels of estrogen in the body is causing all these womanly symptoms for me. So the goal is to lower them. The cruciferous family (cabbages and kin are known vegetables to lower estrogen level). Additionally, as my doctor has been telling me, losing weight also helps in keeping the symptoms to a minimum. Apparently, stored fats causes the body to produce MORE estrogen. So to lower the estrogen in the body, body fats must be eliminated, if possible. This is where exercise like yoga can come in. Yoga is the exercise that I have found most helpful (that is, when I don't get lazy and actually do the practice, even just the sun salutations.)
So there it goes. It's difficult for me to give up all the foods listed above. So what I do is to keep the amount to a minimum. Avoid what I can avoid. Currently, my diet is mostly more on vegetables and fruits and less on meat. No SODA if i can help it.
I see a lot of improvement and promise.
--The number of days I bleed is now reduced to at most 3 to 4 days. Before I would bleed at least 7 days; sometimes lasting 3 weeks. For this cycle, period came PM on Friday, and it lasted only until Sunday. I only had little spots of red on Monday, allowing me to report to work (the first time I was not absent from work since my last DnC procedure in October)
--Pain is still there, but it's now tolerable. However, not tolerable enough yet to skip on the mefenamic
--Just for this cycle, the clots that came out weren't that numerous; thus, lesser pain this time. I also didn't have sleepless or painful night that usually occur around 2 AM.
I'm not totally pain-free, and I'm still on the pill (Gracial), but at least the number of days of suffering is NOW shorter. Perhaps, things will be much better IF I truly be strict about following the diet. Who knows, I may not need hormonal pills any longer just to control my bleeding. Crossing fingers on that, and totally missing pizza, pasta, and burger!
I hope some info here can help another co-sufferer!
UPDATE 2017:I have not taken any OCPs in the last three or five years to control my bleeding. I could only STRICTLY FOLLOW the above diet for at most six months (all foods were either steamed or boiled, no frying). But that six months have made all the difference. I still have adenomyosis, but thankfully, the pain symptoms have been alleviated (I'm no longer mefenamic-dependent for so long now). The only time I will have labor-like pains during my period (once or twice in the last few years) is when I don't keep my food intake to a minimum. If I resort to eating fast-food consecutively (at least, once a day) and eating wheat-based food (like what I'm doing the past few months), then chances are high that I will feel some pain during my cycle. Managing stress has also been helpful.
Please note that above diet is not recommended by doctors. By that I mean, nutrition and diet are not the specialty of the OBs that I consulted. So they were not in a position to confirm whether the diet was indeed the reason I eventually had no more pain symptoms. Additionally, the above compilation is basically what various women in the fora or websites I visited have deemed effective to THEIR CASE (unfortunately, I didn't list them). So what work for these women may not work necessarily work for you. As we have different bodies, we each might respond differently to these foods. What you can do best for yourself is try and try by process of elimination. Don't eliminate food items all at once. See how your body reacts once you eliminate the food item, and how it responds again if you reintroduce the said item again to your system. As in my case, the biggest culprit to my pain symptoms is when I don't watch out my red meat and WHEAT intake. Most of the women have said the same thing about wheat, perhaps you can start with that, and see where it goes.