Community: Forum: Health & Healing

Vegan Health & Nutrition Discussion Forum

Hi there,

Ive recently gone vegan for both health and ethical reasons.

I suffer with really bad endometriosis and also have had a severe ovarian cyst which ended up with me having 2 surgeries this year one in January and one in April.

I decided to go vegan firstly in the hope that it would help balance my hormones but also in my research I watched some documentaries - Vegucated, food inc and a few others which really opened my eyes and now I couldn't an animal product again.

So what I'm asking is has anybody else gone vegan to help with endometriosis? Has it helped? Ive heard that soy messes with your hormones so should I avoid this and what can i eat as an alternative?

Ive been vegan for 6 weeks now and I'm still experiencing quite bad pain, If going vegan does help balance hormones and helps endometriosis how long would it be before I feel better?

Thanks

Responses (6)

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    Posted by ahimsa32fa at 06/15/16 11:48:10

    Have you tried a search under "vegan diet and endometriosis"?

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    Posted by Craig N at 06/16/16 07:14:46

    I do know of someone who went vegan and it immensely helped her endometriosis. She had a number of laparoscopic surgeries prior to switching her nutrition. Her Ob/gym was the one who told her she needed to look at nutrition. Remember, it is critically important to really eat Whole Food Plant Based with minimal processed foods and no added oils to truly be healthy. Potato chips and coke are vegan but completely unhealthy. You should see health benefits within three weeks. Trust me. I am an anesthesiologist by training but nutrition and health as my passions these days. My whole family is plant based and experiences its benefits. My wife's menses rarely bother her these days when compare to the past.

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    Posted by Robinwomb at 06/16/16 11:34:40

    I wish I had known about veganism back when I suffered with endometriosis. I was given the options of drugs, hormones, and surgery and tried them all. I ended up having a total hysterectomy and lost both ovaries at the age of 33. Surgical menopause changed my life forever. It was a very traumatic experience, and due to the loss of my ovarian hormones, my bone density plummeted to severe osteoporotic range (I have had numerous DXA scans since then). I never wanted the hysterectomy, but at the time I was desperate, and it was heavily pushed on me. That was eleven years ago in 2005. Even after everything was out, I had to have another surgery in late 2006 because endometriosis continued to cause me such pain, even with no uterus or ovaries. I had another surgeon removed the endo that the previous one left behind on my bladder and sigmoid colon.

    In February 2011 I went vegan overnight from omni and have never looked back. My digestion and energy levels have improved tremendously. Surgical menopause has been more bearable. But i often wonder if I had gone vegan before consenting to a hysterectomy, if that would have saved me years of turmoil.

    By the way, organic soy from tempeh, tofu, soymilk, etc is perfectly fine. Soy is a phytoestrogen, it is a plant that can mimic some of the effects of estrogen. This does not make it a toxin or bad for you. There are tons of compounds in cows and goats milk that have animal estrogens that affect people far worse, because they are not natural foods for humans. Soy is not the only plant with naturally occuring phytoestrogens. Flaxseeds, most beans, leafy greens, are all forms of phytoestrogens. All have very positive and healthful effects. I would recommend going to Google Scholar and searching soy and hormones for reliable double blind medical studies about soy. you won't find all the nonsense going around on the internet. Soy is also an excellent source of iron, protein, omega 3s, and even calcium. The soy that you want to avoid is the stuff that is in highly processed crackers, breads, mayonnaise, processed cereals, salad dressings, that sort of thing, because those products are also loaded with saturated fat, hydrogenated oil, sugar, salt. Processed oils are highly inflammatory, something you don't want when you have endometriosis. A plant diet that focuses on whole foods minimizes the inflammatory and acidic compounds found in more processed foods.

    Personally, I would give it a good few months before giving up. It takes a while for the body to adjust to a plant based diet. It takes time for the gut flora to change, and for the body to respond positively to this new way of eating. There is a learning curve, and not all benefits are immediate. In fact most aren't. Over time you will be rewarded, trust me!

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    Posted by arielseamermaid at 06/16/16 15:09:07

    Thank you all for responding. I will definitely be carrying on. I have been eating quite a bit of "vegan junk food" so il be cutting all of that out as well.

    My Gyn consultant has put me on the mini pill to try and stop my period altogether and I know that it contains lactose, I would like to come off it eventually as its helping but not hugely but I'm also worried that coming off it may cause more problems.

    Any advice on this?

    Robin worm you have my sympathies, it was only 2 months ago that a hysterectomy was looking on the cards for me as I have stage 4 endo and a borderline tumour on my ovary I really I really don't want this to happen young as I'm only 27. I can't imagine what it was like.

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    Posted by Robinwomb at 06/19/16 03:46:59

    arielseamermaid,

    I really hope you can stave off the hysterectomy as long as possible! 27 is so very young to lose your natural ovarian hormones. It is rare for an endometriosis related ovarian cyst to become cancerous. Extremely rare. This is often a scare tactic used by gynecologists to move you closer to a hysterectomy. For them it is the "easy way out" of managing problems like endometriosis. Just take it all out and the problem goes away right? Except that a whole cascade of new problems are created when you lose important endocrine organs such as your ovaries, uterus, cervix. Trust me. Even the women who think it is the "best thing they ever did" often end up with a lot of problems they don't often correlate to the loss of their ovaries. I work in a medical field and I see a lot first hand. However, I am not a doctor or an expert. My advice would be to do things slowly. Do not try to make too many changes at once. Stay on the mini pill for a while as you adjust to a new way of eating and living. But you have to be very strict with what you put in AND on your body. Stay away from hydrogenated oils (such as that in the more processed peanut butters, crackers, some processed breads, chips, etc). Try to stick to foods with three or fewer ingredients in them. Take some time to really learn how to prepare whole plant foods. I have had a blast learning how to make stuff like cauliflower "alfredo" sauce, or sweet potato "cheese" sauce with nutritional yeas, or white bean dips to go with fresh veggies. You can even make chia seed jam with three ingredients...chia seeds, fresh or frozen fruits, maple syrup or other vegan natural sweetener. Incorporate fruits and vegetables at every meal. Incorporate leafy greens into soups, sandwiches, salads, smoothies, stir fries and casseroles. They are packed with iron, calcium, and a whole host of other micronutrients. Beans are an excellent protein and fiber source. With endometriosis, you want to keep things moving through smoothly. I used to get really constipated when I was an omni. I had a lot of digestive issues from my endometriosis, and they all told me it was IBS and to eat a bland diet. It was the WRONG advice. I lived on saltines, potatoes and rice, white bread, Greek yogurt. If I had veggies, I cooked them to death. Being constipated when you have endometriosis on your sigmoid colon, bladder, and uterine pelvic ligaments can be extremely painful. I am never ever constipated now as a vegan. I get WAY more fiber, more nutrients moving through and getting absorbed. Also, people with endometriosis tend to have other autoimmune related issues, and we tend to be far more sensitive to chemicals than others. I can not be around perfume, cologne, cigarette smoke, heavy duty cleaning supplies. I don't even wear makeup or use any products in my hair other than a very simple plant based soap. I brought all my cleaning stuff...windex, bathroom cleaner, comet...to my local waste management facility when I went vegan. I even ditched my hairspray. I use pure essential oils on my body, and simple coconut based soap. I do go to the dentist but always refuse the flouride treatments. I have bad reactions to stuff like that. The less you stress your body, and the less you bring it into contact with substances it doesn't recognize, the easier it will heal. This is not just quack science I am spouting off. At our cancer center at the medical complex I work at, for the entire building, there are certain chemicals that are off limits and not allowed, even some types of plants, because it is hard on those with lowered immune systems (cancer patients are often put on hard core drugs that lower the immune response). Try to stear clear of bathroom tissues with lotions and fragrances.

    Little things like this make a difference over the long haul. And exercise. It might seem counterintuitive when you are doubled over in pain. I was in a lot of pain when I was first put on an exercise regimen. I was in a pain program that focused on the whole person. Not just shoving pain meds at you. Though it really hurt at first, over time I actually gained strength, energy, and was better able to handle stress and pain. The pain actually did go down quite a bit, and my thyroid hormones are better regulated with exercise. I'm guessing the same can be said for ovarian hormones. The endorphins, the feel good hormones that are released when you exercise, are very healing. Something gentle like yoga, or brisk walking outside, those things will help greatly. Exercise is my lifeline now. It is like medicine for me, a natural antidepressant and stress reliever. And you really learn to listen to your body with exercise.

    My older sister gets very heavy periods and extreme irritability unless she is on the Depo provera shot. Personally I am not crazy about that shot, and the long term side effects include irreversible bone density loss, but she tried to go off it for a while and was having a terrible time so she went back on. It doesn't mean she will have to stay on it forever. It just means at this time she isn't ready to go off. Think of it that way with the mini pill. Maybe in the future when you body is stronger and healthier you could try to wean off. It's a more conservative and better option than something as permanent as a hysterectomy.

    I hope it all works out for you! I know how horrible endometroisis is. have you ever heard of the Endometriosis Association? They are a huge organization with a lot of resources and research. I was a member for a while some time ago. It might be worth visiting their site and exploring other ways to cope and manage your endo. Best wishes!




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    Posted by AllyRamser at 06/28/16 00:55:49

    Hi! I know women that have gone vegan and it has helped their endometriosis. I don't have endometriosis but do have hashimoto's disease (another hormonal issue) and changing my diet has helped me immensely. I would say soy is ok just stick with organic, non-GMO soy products whenever possible! :) Do you avoid sugar as well? Good luck!
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