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By Dr Carla Brion | Acupuncturist & Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Pain is not normal. It is not our bodies natural state. It’s a cry for help, signalling you to pay closer attention.  Most of us learn to ignore that cry and live with pain. We patch it up with bandaid fixes like Panadol. Somewhere along the way we stopped listening to our bodies and lost touch with ourselves. We are a product of our society after all, and we modern superwomen do too much, too fast. I once ignored my body too. I tried to drown out the noise, until that cry became a deafening scream. Sound familiar?

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I believe that wherever you are now is exactly where you are meant to be. And I believe I came to be a doctor of Chinese Medicine with an interest in Women’s Health because of where I have been and what I have lived. I am the person and the practitioner that I am today because of the experiences I’ve had. A few years ago now I suspected I had Endometriosis, the all too common disease – that’s right, ‘dis(ease)’ – caused by a hormonal imbalance that effects around 1 in 5 Australian women. In my last 5 years of clinical experience, I have seen countless women come to me for support with their Endometriosis or ‘Endo’. I know the signs and symptoms all too well; bloating and IBS, painful periods, chronic pelvic pain and irregular cycles. A lot of the times it goes undiagnosed, which was almost the case for myself. My cycles were always a bit ‘off’; super heavy one period and barely there the next, 21 days one month and then 35 days the following. I mean, how is a girl meant to live? (Thank the technology gods for period tracker apps these days!)

I’ve always had IBS and chronic abdominal pain but when my period pain got so severe that it interrupted my ability to function properly in everyday life, I told myself enough was enough. I knew deep in my belly (pun intended) that something was not right (always trust your gut and your intuition on this because it is much smarter than we’ll ever know). I’d already been in and out of so many GPs rooms who didn’t think there was anything wrong because pain was not uncommon and my blood tests showed nothing ‘abnormal’. But still I knew my hormones were out of whack. After going to yet another Gynaecologist, I was told it was unlikely that I had endometriosis and that to manage my pain I should just take the Oral Contraceptive Pill. Being a holistic practitioner, this didn’t sit right with me. So, I decided to go away and give it another 6 months just to see what happened… but I didn’t make it that long. After just 2 months (and 2 horrendously painful, emotional cycles), I was practically banging on my Gyno’s door to book me in for laparoscopic surgery. I needed answers. I wanted to know what was going on in my body. A more detailed diagnosis meant a more individualised, specific treatment plan.

After the surgery confirmed I had endometriosis, I combined Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine (and some lifestyle and dietary changes) to get my body back on track. I am all for an integrated approach to treatment as every woman is different. It is truly the way of the future, where East meets West and old fuses with the new. Laparoscopic surgery can reduce symptoms or even get rid of them altogether, as well as make you more fertile. And natural medicine and support such as Acupuncture, herbs and supplements can manage symptoms, help prevent endometriosis from coming back, as well as promote post-surgery healing.

As someone who has, and still is dealing with the pain of Endo first hand, it is in my duty of care to educate more women about it, and tell you there are so many options out there to treat and manage pain and hormonal imbalances. Now is the time to tune in and listen to your body more. Periods should not be painful and awful. They should not be dreaded, nor should they come with such negative stigma. Being the strong and incredible women we all are, we should feel confident and comfortable in our own skin to live our lives freely every day of the month. If you suspect something is not right, don’t put your health second any longer and get some help.

What you can do:

:: See a specialist…
a gynaecologist or pelvic pain specialist, preferably someone you know and trust has referred you to

:: Seek natural treatment…
acupuncture and herbal medicine are both gentle and so effective in treating pain, regulating periods and reducing symptoms, because TCM treats the root of the problem.

:: Aim for a hormone balancing,…
eat a highly plant based, whole-foods diet including lots of veg, fruit, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, seeds etc. Avoid dairy, processed sugar and excessive highly processed grains that contain gluten as these can cause further inflammation.

:: Add in supplements…
daily pro-biotic to strengthen gut health, mega magnesium for pain and hormones and extra dietary fibre such a psyllium husks to help balance your oestrogen levels.

: Use food as medicine

eat a highly plant based, whole-foods diet including lots of veg, fruit, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, seeds etc. Avoid dairy, processed sugar and excessive highly processed grains that contain gluten as these can cause further inflammation.

:: Practice mindfulness…
try meditation and breathing exercises to calm your mind and connect you to your body. Journaling and daily gratitudes will help your mindset stay positive.

:: Move, almost every day…
Yoga, pilates, walking, hiking, resistance training etc. Mix it up but don’t go OTT – balance is key.

:: Listen to your body…
especially during your period! Use it as the perfect excuse to slow down and stop. Your body needs extra TLC during your period.

Any questions, feel free to contact me!

Carla x

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