You feel heavy and fluidy around your belly. Maybe a little bloated and like a balloon is in there. What is that recurring belly that appears each month during your period cycle and why is it so uncomfortable? Let’s take a look at Chinese Medicine’s take on “Endo Belly”.
Endo Belly is the term given to the swollen and distended lower abdomen that is common to women experiencing different grades of Endometriosis. Some women say they look 6 months pregnant, some just feel fluidy around their middle and others experience bloating. But what is going on in there? And why does it reappear every month?
Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the symptom of “Endo Belly” as Stagnation, pure and simple.
With Endometriosis being a condition that is stagnant in nature – stagnant endometrium lining detaches and migrates outside the uterus and “sticks” to anything in the pelvic cavity including other organs such as bladder and bowel, to ligaments and muscles.
These resulting lesions remain stuck and still respond to hormonal signalling from the brain & hormone feedback loops, potentially growing in size or number. With their activity, they irritate those structures they’re stuck to.
The Bowel – causing bloating, distention and Irritable Bowel-like symptoms, wind and gas, gurgling and discomfort.
The Bladder – urinary irritation, frequency,
Muscles and Ligaments – pain and discomfort on movement and use.
Endo Belly = Stagnation + Irritation
The Fluid Type: The result is a swelling of fluid around the lower abdomen, because of poor lymphatic drainage around major drainage points in the groin and solar plexus. This can give women the experience of a fluidy, heavy, dragging feeling in their lower abdomen.
The Wind Type: For those with more of a balloon-like feeling, distention, wind and gas pain, the lesions would seem to be irritating the bowel, causing spasm, cramp or even constipation. The inability to pass a bowel movement or wind makes this even more uncomfortable. (A lot of nitty-gritty detail, I know! :-))
In Chinese Medicine supporting the Spleen and Moving Liver Qi (Stagnant Qi) is the treatment strategy for both cases. Where the woman feels more fluidy, Spleen support becomes the main focus. Where wind-pain and distention affects her, moving stuck Liver Qi is the aim. All can be achieved with the use of selected Acupuncture points and Chinese Herbs to address both Liver and Spleen accordingly for that woman’s unique presentation.
Why does it show up every month?
Endometriosis is Oestrogen influenced. The fluctuating hormones of each period cycle is what drives the activity of Endometriosis, like switching it between active and really active.
But remember… There is no cure for Endometriosis. So this means, there is no “off switch” once you have a diagnosis and it’s best to monitor it with your doctor or gynaecologist.
Pre-menstrual phase is a common time to see Endo Belly appear, in some women it’s permanently there all month, every month. Helping the woman’s pelvic circulation is important to assisting, easing or relieving Endo Belly.
Unfortunately, there is nothing consistent about Endometriosis. Acute episodes can give you severe pain that is out of the ordinary, or you may have no pain. There may be some months when your Endo belly is worse and much bigger and other months where it’s less so.
Other things you can do to help ease symptoms around “Endo Belly” include:
- Exercise – “Moving your limbs, moves your Qi.” Exercise is a free and easy way to help prevent stagnation in the body. It promotes good circulation, lymphatic drainage and peristalsis (motility) of the bowel.
- Drinking water – its seems counter-intuitive with the fluidy symptoms, but proper hydration helps your Liver, cleans out your cells throughout your whole body, promotes good lymphatic drainage and prevent’s constipation.
- Heat packs – directly over the lower abdomen can ease cramps, spasms, pain and distention. Like any muscle, when its warm it relaxes and allows movement. The same applies to the bowel for motility and the Uterus for blood flow and circulation.
- Self-massage – Massaging your bowel in a clockwise motion will help motility and blood flow.
- Take Magnesium – Magnesium is a natural Muscle relaxant. Because the Uterus and Bowel are smooth muscle, they will respond to Magnesium by relaxing and softening. This improves circulation to these rogans and settles them when they’re cramping or irritated.
Helping the body by relieving distention and swelling around the abdomen is the first step in easing the pressure from Endo Belly. Putting up with the pain each month isn’t worth it and probably it won’t go away on it’s own. See your doctor if you haven’t got a diagnosis yet, to clarify exactly what your case is. If you do have mild or moderate Endometriosis consider Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine as effective ways to help manage symptoms.
For face to face consultations about what’s bothering you about your Endometriosis and “Endo Belly” email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0414 459 659 in Australia.