Endometriosis Treatments: What to Expect
Vinyl plastics-also known as polyvinyl chloride or PVC-pollute the environment during the life cycle of a product, from production to disposal. Construction materials—such as siding and pipes—comprise 75 percent of PVC products; vinyl is also used in toys, medical devices, and product packaging. When shopping at the hardware store or hiring a contractor, specify that you want non-PVC materials. At the grocery or toy store, says Castrodale, "Look at the recycling symbol. If it's a 'V' or a '3' inside a triangle, it's vinyl." If you can't find a symbol, let your hands guide you: Vinyl tends to be stiffer and more leathery than other plastics. For more information, contact the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. For medical devices that don't contain PVC, contact Health Care Without Harm.
Don't burn your garbage.
According to a 1999 study, a family of four burning trash in a backyard barrel—still practiced in rural areas—can release as much dioxin into the air as a well-regulated municipal waste incinerator serving tens of thousands of households. This kind of uncontrolled burning is particularly hazardous, emitting not just dioxin but PCBs, another suspected endocrine disruptor that has been linked to a range of health problems, including endometriosis. Recycle instead.
Over-the-counter pain relievers may include aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol), as well as drugs that inhibit inflammation, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). In severe cases, prescription painkillers may be required.
Hormonal treatments aim to stop ovulation—and menstrual bleeding later on in the cycle—for as long as possible and may include birth control pills or shots (Depo-Provera), or progesterone drugs. To induce a chemical menopause, doctors may prescribe a testosterone derivative (Danazol) or gonadotropin-releasing hormone drugs, such as Lupron.
Acupuncture, yoga, and massage may relieve symptoms by reducing pain and stress. A low-fat organic diet can reduce toxic chemicals in the body and may ease pain in some, but not all, women.
In the most conservative technique, which uses a laparoscope and a tiny incision, doctors remove endometriosis growths to relieve pain and restore or protect fertility. But lesions and pain may recur, necessitating more surgery. In severe cases, or when other treatments fail, doctors may recommend removing the uterus and ovaries, inducing a surgical menopause.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2003 issue of Organic Style. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.