March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month, focused on bringing awareness to a disease which affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide and is the biggest cause of infertility in women.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is also found elsewhere in the body, mainly in the abdominal cavity. It typically affects women during their menstruating years.
From endometriosisassn.org. “Normal periods do not cause excruciating pain, but endometriosis does. There are a number of endometriosis symptoms that should not be ignored.” Some common issues women and teens with endometriosis suffer from.
- Pain before and during periods (usually worse than “normal” menstrual cramps)
- Pain during or after sexual activity
- Painful urination/bowel movements during periods
- Heavy bleeding
- Other gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain. The pain often correlates to the menstrual cycle, however a woman with endometriosis may also experience pain at other times during her monthly cycle.
According to Endometriosis.org, “there are different hypotheses as to what causes endometriosis. Unfortunately, none of these theories have ever been entirely proven, nor do they fully explain all the mechanisms associated with the development of the disease.
Thus, the cause of endometriosis remains unknown.” Read the FAQ on Endometriosis.
While endometriosis is a cause of infertility, a common myth about endometriosis is that having Endometriosis invariably means that you will become infertile.
As reported by Endometriosis.org, it is generally believed that 60–70% of women with endometriosis remain fertile.
Understanding Fertility and Reproductive Health
Today, we’re spotlighting reproductive health to provide information and tools we hope will empower you or a loved one to discover more about reproductive health.
Regular blood screening is crucial for understanding your hormones, tracking progress, and measuring your associated risk, to hopefully stop a problem before it becomes a problem.
Once you have the information, you can make educated, informed choices that fit your body’s specific and unique needs, from nutrition and lifestyle changes to hormone and risk monitoring.
WellnessFX created a Women’s Health blood package, an extensive panel of women’s health-focused biomarkers. It’s not just for fertility – the panel can also test for imbalances in the hormones discussed here that affect factors like sleep, energy, longevity, and mood.
Reproductive Health: The Main Tests and Biomarkers to Track
The key to getting health answers is asking the right health questions. A blood test can reveal deficiencies or imbalances that lead to weight gain/loss, fatigue, and changes in mood. If you’ve had nagging questions like:
- If your oral contraceptive is negatively impacting you?
- Why you can’t seem to lose those stubborn pounds?
- Where sudden exhaustion is coming from?
The following biomarkers are related to fertility and the overall function of the female reproductive system:
- Complete Metabolic Panel: A CMP includes key biomarkers to monitor, such as calcium
- Estradiol: This is the main female sex hormone and the byproduct of testosterone metabolism.
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): FSH is a primarily female reproductive hormone that helps stimulate follicle production.
- hs-CRP: High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein measures inflammation, which has been associated with numerous diseases, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, cancer, and even depression. In women, hs-CRP can actually help identify the risk of heart disease. Read the 3 reasons you need to be tracking this biomarker.
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH): LH stimulates cells to produce sex hormones.
- Testosterone: An anabolic hormone driving production of muscle and burning of fat. Read about the role it plays in men here.
- Progesterone: A primarily female sex hormone that, like other hormones, influences mood, fertility, and metabolism.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): The overall measure of thyroid stimulation affecting metabolism, energy, weight, and temperature control. Get the 5 Basic Facts Everyone Should Know About the Thyroid.
- Free T3 & Free T4: Your thyroid controls your metabolism, with Free T3 and T4 being the active components of thyroid function. Too much can lead to hyperactivity, undesired weight loss, and heat intolerance, while more common low levels can cause fatigue and unwanted weight gain. Thyroid abnormalities are far more common in women, and along with Cortisol abnormalities are one of the primary non-anatomical causes of infertility. WellnessFX offers an Advanced Thyroid package, which can be ordered separately or with other packages.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D goes beyond supporting absorption of Calcium to increase bone strength in menopausal years. Avoiding Vitamin D deficiency can increase immunity, decrease inflammation, and even regulate levels of the key female cycle hormones, estrogen, and progesterone.
Because the functioning of all cells and tissues in the body are dependent on the delivery of oxygen by your red blood cells, it’s important for women to routinely assess their blood cells and essential nutrient levels. Specifically:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC) with differential: A CBC measures your major cell types. Red blood cells carry oxygen to tissues for metabolism. White blood cells are your predominant immune cells. Platelets are your main clotting cells. In addition, a CBC can tell you if your red blood cells lack certain nutrients or have other abnormalities and the amounts of specific types of immune cells.
- Ferritin: Ferritin is a protein that stores iron before it’s used to make new red blood cells, and therefore can act as a better measure of Iron stores than even Iron itself.
- Folate: An essential vitamin in the production of many cells, including red and white blood cells. Healthy folate levels support nerve function, bone and brain health, and help prevent serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain.
- RBC Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral in over 300 biochemical reactions, a common deficiency, and RBC Magnesium–the actual amount of Magnesium in red blood cells– can be a more accurate measure of Magnesium function than Magnesium itself.
- Vitamin B12: Similar to Folate, B12 is an essential vitamin for the production of many cells, including red and white blood, and nerve function. B12 is predominantly found in animal products, so restriction dieters, vegans, and vegetarians should be aware.
- Cortisol: Commonly referred to as the “stress hormone.” Cortisol is the primary stress hormone activating the fight or flight response, such as squeezing blood flow to muscles and away from the heart and brain, while raising blood sugar for energy. When chronically stressed, this can lead to high blood pressure, high blood sugar contributing to diabetes, the death of brain cells and digestive issues. In women, elevated Cortisol can disrupt cycle hormones, and make the menopausal transition more uncomfortable. When Cortisol remains elevated for a prolonged period of time, it can lead to fatigue of the adrenals, the Cortisol producing gland. leading to overall fatigue and muscle discomfort, such as fibromyalgia. Cortisol abnormalities can also contribute to infertility. Check out Stress by the Numbers to learn more about “4 Unhealthy Responses to Imbalanced Cortisol.”
How WellnessFX Can Help
The WellnessFX Women’s Health panel was created to empower you with an in-depth understanding of your health, fertility, and risk for disease, so you can make educated, informed choices that fit your body’s unique needs, ranging from nutrition and lifestyle changes to hormone, contraceptive, and risk monitoring.
This extensive test package is available outside of a doctor’s office for less than you’d pay at a specialty clinic.
Routinely assess your biomarkers, blood cells, and essential nutrient levels to help stay updated on how you’re progressing through various transitions of your life and health.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.