Fast forward a good 20 years, and we still don’t have a cure for endo, and we don’t have what me, or the World Health Organization4 besides, would consider effective treatments for the condition.
But I’m not surprised. In 2022, the National Institutes of Health devoted less than 0.1% of its research funding to studying this chronic disease that affects 1 in 105 people attributed to female at birth of childbearing age, significantly reduces quality of life6, and costs the United States about $22 billion a year in lost productivity. (FYI, in rare cases, those assigned male at birth may also have endo.)
Like many people with endo who have been left behind when it comes to treatment and care, I had to do my own research. I have found that dietary changes, while not a cure, can help relieve symptoms of endometriosis. In the early 2000s, the mainstream wisdom regarding diet and endo was to go vegan.
The simplified theory was that eating a few animal products7, such as red meat, may stimulate the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins, although crucial to the body, when overproduced can cause the uterus (and this endometrium-like tissue) to contract, leading to pain and cramping. Additionally, prostaglandins are involved8 in the pathophysiology of the endo.
As someone who became a vegan in 2001, I can tell you that a vegan diet doesn’t always equate to healthy eating. Although I ate an abundance of fruits and vegetables, I also consumed a lot of processed carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, cereals, breads, etc. So this vegan diet didn’t necessarily help me. Actually, it may have made things worse.