Fast-forward a good 20 years, and we still don’t have a cure for endo, and we don’t have what I, or the World Health Organization4 for that matter, would consider effective treatments for the condition.
But I’m not surprised. In 2022, the National Institutes of Health dedicated less than 0.1% of their research funding to the study of this chronic condition that affects 1 in 105 people assigned female at birth of reproductive age, significantly reduces quality of life6, and costs the United States an estimated $22 billion a year in lost productivity. (FYI, in rare cases, people assigned male at birth can have endo too.)
Like many people with endo who’ve been left in the lurch regarding treatment and care, I had to do my own research. I discovered that dietary changes, although not a cure, may help alleviate endometriosis symptoms. Back in the early aughts, the prevailing wisdom regarding diet and endo was to go vegan.
The simplified theory was that eating some animal products7, like red meat, could drive prostaglandin production. Prostaglandins, although crucial for the body, when overproduced can cause the uterus (and that endometrial-like tissue) to contract, leading to pain and cramping. Plus, prostaglandins are implicated8 in the pathophysiology of endo.
As someone who went vegan way back in 2001, I can tell you that a vegan diet does not always equate to a healthy diet. Although I ate an abundance of fruits and veggies, I was also consuming lots of processed carbs, such as pasta, rice, cereal, bread, etc. So that vegan diet didn’t necessarily help me. In fact, it may have made it worse9.