Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about the benefits of treating chronic pain with Palmitoylethanolamide, P.E.A. When we think of chronic pain, I guess most of us immediately think of arthritis, back pain, maybe fibromyalgia, sciatica, shingles or neuralgia. All of those conditions, I have in fact been writing about over the past few weeks.
There is one health condition however which can cause severe chronic pain for many women and is often overlooked. That is Endometriosis. Endometriosis can be an extremely painful and debilitating condition which disrupts the lives of many women. Not only does it cause terrible pain it can also cause fertility problems.
Endometriosis is a condition which occurs when tissue, which is similar to the tissue created by the lining of our uterus, develops outside our uterus. This endometrial tissue unfortunately can then grow on our ovaries, bowel and even the tissues which may line our pelvic area. As our body undergoes hormonal fluctuations during our menstrual cycle, this affects this endometrial tissue which in turn produces inflammation and pain. It also means the tissue which has degenerated over time, will accumulate in our pelvis. When this happens, this entrapped tissue can cause adhesions causing tissue to bind our pelvic organs together, severe pain during our periods, scar formation, infertility and general irritation.
One of the main symptoms of Endometriosis is pelvic pain. Painful periods, particularly pain in the lower abdomen before and during menstruation, lower back pain and cramps for one or two weeks around menstruation. Endometriosis can cause pain or discomfort with bowel movement or following sexual intercourse. There is often heavy menstrual bleeding or sometimes bleeding between periods.
With chronic pelvic pain being a major issue in Endometriosis, it’s believed P.E.A. may be helpful in treating pelvic pain. As we now know Palmitoylethanolamide, PEA is a compound produced by our bodies to assist in the management of pain and inflammation. There have been several studies researching the effectiveness of P.E.A. for pelvic pain. In one study undertaken over a 9-month period, 56 women supplementing with 600mg P.E.A. and 300mg a-lipoic acid per day found after 6 months the pain had improved considerably and improved sexual function (1). Another study of 30 women suffering from endometriosis found pain had reduced substantially over the 3-month period. At the end of the treatment all patients showed a significant improvement in chronic pelvic pain, deep dyspareunia, dysmenorrhea, dyschezia as well as in quality of life and psychological wellbeing (2).
Whilst women with Endometriosis may not only suffer from severe pain with menstruation, they may also experience miscarriage and infertility. Endometriosis is believed to be one of the leading causes of female infertility. With this in mind, treating the pain of Endometriosis is only part of the equation and it may be worthwhile talking to one of our practitioners in clinic, about other natural treatment for Endometriosis.
(1) S Caruso, M Iraci Sareri, E Casella, B Ventura, V Fava, A Cianci Cliical Trial Minerva Ginecol 2015 Oct; 67(5):413-9 Chronic pelvic pain, quality of life and sexual health of women treated with palmitoylethanolamide and a-lipioic acid
(2) Emanuela Stochino Loi; Allessandro Pontis, Vito Cofelice, Silvia Pirarba, Maria Francesca Fais, Angelos Daniilidis, Irene Melis, Anna Maria Paoletti, Stefano Angioni Int J Womens Health 2019:11: 443-449 Published online 2019 Aug 12 doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S2042 Effect of ultramicronized-palmitoylethanolamide and co-micronized palmitoylethanolamide/polydatin on chronic pelvic pain and quality of life in endometriosis patients:An open-label pilot study