Research of the mind-body connection is gaining ground in mainstream science, no longer relegated to “alternative” medicine. We are coming to understand – in a deeper and more detailed way – how thoughts and feelings can directly impact our physical health and well-being. We are seeing the empirical evidence mounting when it comes to how physical symptoms can manifest in connection to emotions. This is a concept I think we all understand instinctively, and often relate to in our own lives. It’s good to see the science supporting a shared experience.
Endometriosis is a serious reproductive health issue with debilitating symptoms. When a woman comes to me at FLO Living with endometriosis I share guidance on dietary triggers for those symptoms and potential lifestyle changes that can rid her surroundings of exacerbating chemicals.
Endometriosis is a complex condition that needs a comprehensive strategy for management, tackling the ecosystem of the microbiome, liver health, inflammation in the body, and excess estrogen. All of these elements I view from a functional medicine standpoint, and have utilized to help hundreds of women overcome endometriosis symptoms – in example, Natalia is just one. For women with endometriosis it’s vital that we work together to prevent symptoms as soon as possible, and shifts in diet, adding supplements, and removing certain triggers can be very effective, very quickly.
Just as in my previous post I looked at the emotional root of ovarian cysts, in this post I’ll be looking at the emotional connection for endometriosis sufferers. The emotional patterns behind hormonal and reproductive health issues are experienced by many, many women. Addressing the emotional aspect of health issues like ovarian cysts, endometriosis, fibroids, and PCOS can be an important part of the healing process. While these problems and their symptoms create their own emotions in women (depression, anxiety, stress, worry), they also come from emotions that many women hold.
I believe that understanding the emotional root can lead to more compassion for ourselves, for other women, and an individual and collective recovery.
This is something I see often with the women I work with through FLO Living, we will be in the process of working on her health issue from a functional medicine standpoint and eventually we’ll organically reach a point of discussing her life, her past experiences, her feelings about herself, and about the things that have happened to her. It’s not all that surprising, it’s intimate work, and when women treat women outside of the doctor’s office, there’s a tendency for the mind-body connection to come up in a way that you might not see happen elsewhere.
It’s deeply frustrating that many female-specific health issues are under-researched, under-discussed, and often neglected. This is often the case with endometriosis, although I’m glad to see that recently more attention is being brought to this condition through advocacy and education.
The feminist mind-body connection
Think about your female reproductive organs (uterus, ovaries, vagina) acting as a “low heart” and as such holding many of your unconscious, deeper emotions that the “high heart” is not yet ready to process. The emotions are held here, only to be released once a person has processed the source of these held feelings.
There’s actually a deeply feminist history to the mind-body connection and how it relates to the female experience. A student of psychologist Carl Jung, Marion Woodman, developed a concept of “feminine psychology.” Her work details exactly how unconsciously held emotions, feelings, and thoughts can affect the female body. It’s important to note that as science progresses we are seeing more and more empirical evidence to support and back up this perspective. Woodman investigated how women feel about their bodies. Many of us are brought up to be fearful and distrustful of our bodies, and she believed this has a significant impact on our health. She believed that the unprocessed trauma experienced by many women – as the result of individually experienced acts of abuse and violence, and as the result of cultural oppression – could manifest itself in physical symptoms, especially those relating specifically to female biology.
Your emotions and endometriosis
Looking to endometriosis specifically, the emotional connection can be found it something common to many women – that is, taking care of others more so than yourself. The uterus seems to mirror the behavior, by having the material of the womb, the endometrium, the first maternal embrace an embryo receives, to grow outside of the womb, in an attempt to mother the woman who isn’t mothering herself. This way, by creating a symptom you would have no choice but to pay attention to, would lead you more quickly to evaluate this situation of unbalanced mother behavior that is leaving you depleted. We’ve all heard the saying, “you cannot pour from an empty cup,” and we’ve heard it because so many of us continue to put others first always and ourselves last. That can mean caring for our partner, parents, siblings, or children at the expense of our own health and well-being. It’s wonderful to care for others and cater to their needs, but when we do it in such a way that puts ourselves a very poor last on the list, this can be detrimental. We might feel frustrated, angry, resentful, or just plain stressed and exhausted by the practical requirements of living that life. The expectations put on all women to be the care-providers, to put others first always, to do the “emotional labor” of supporting those around them can be oppressive.
Does this resonate with you? Do you ever feel like you’re keeping everyone else happy, stable, and cared-for, but that you’re not attending to your own needs and desires? Do you long for someone to take care of you? There’s a burning desire there for self-nurturance as well as connection with other women and community-centered support.
These pressures can come out in the body and manifest as symptoms. The emotional root of endometriosis is by no means the only root cause of endometriosis, but it’s an element that I have found to be important in my work with endometriosis sufferers at FLO Living. As I’ve said before, this has nothing to do with your personal choices in your life, and everything to do with the position of women in society, and how we are conditioned to organize our lives and act towards ourselves. Your uterus is offering you a gift, an opportunity to reflect on your patterns and revise them for not only better health, but a happier life. A very loving act indeed, even though it doesn’t feel like it at times, your reproductive organs are always lovingly pointing you in the right direction for your life as a woman.
Compassion and community
Sadly, many women experience trauma in their lives and many of us also go through experiences we are unable to fully emotional process because the topic is considered taboo or we just don’t get the support we need to talk it out. Shared experiences between women include our first period, a miscarriage, abuse, rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, aggression, as well as the compounding experience of living in a society that often presents us with misogyny and sexism. I’d like us to start by communicating our thoughts and feelings as women, together, and from there I think we can create an opportunity for individual and collective healing.
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
To your FLO,
We believe that no woman should suffer simply because she has a period.
And we also know that it’s not always possible to get access to functional and holistic healthcare solutions — sometimes they’re too far away and most of the time they are way too expensive.
That’s why we offer phone and Skype consultation sessions with our FLO coaches.
All of our expert FLO coaches have been trained by Alisa on top of being certified health coaches and licensed acupuncturists. And they are all qualified to help you find the right next step for you in getting out of hormonal chaos and into your FLO. Work with a FLO Coach and find your customized plan to solve your period symptoms.