Bloating Blues: What to do about Adeno & Endo Belly

What can I do about my adeno/endo belly?

Do you have a swollen, bloated belly from adenomyosis or endometriosis? Learn about the causes of adeno/endo belly, what foods help it, and how to massage your belly to find relief! When I was first diagnosed with adenomyosis something was really wrong, I had a huge, swollen belly. All the time. People would ask me if I was pregnant because I looked four months pregnant. Dieting did not make a dent in the problem, and I had no clue what to do. Along with my belly, my digestion was horrible. In my search for answers, I found out I had a very common digestive condition called SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth). Once I improved my gut health, my adeno/endo belly finally was gone!
I want you to know that it is possible to improve your adeno/endo belly without a hysterectomy. You deserve to feel better! Many women get adeno/endo belly improvement after hysterectomy, while others still have a bloated belly post hysterectomy. Research shows that women with adeno or endo who are on the pill or other synthetic hormone treatment (e.g. Mirena) have higher bloating severity and discomfort than women with adeno or endo who are not on the pill, mirena, patch, or implant.

What causes bloating and adeno/endo belly?

Often we have gut issues before getting an adenomyosis diagnosis. Adeno/endo belly is autoimmune related and is linked to poor gut health. Common causes of adeno/endo belly are: inflammation, hormone imbalance, stressed eating, large intestine dysfunction, low stomach acid, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth.
Inflammation: Adenomyomis and endometriosis are both chronic inflammatory conditions. Adeno and endo tissues themselves may inflame and are a factor in belly swelling.
Gut Issues: For us adeno &/or endo girls, a healthy gut is needed to absorb nutrients from our food. Healing the gut helps calm the auto immune response that happens with adeno and endo. Work with a healthcare practitioner, functional medicine doctor, and women’s health coach to figure out exactly what is causing your gut issues.
Large Intestine dysfunction: Your large intestine should be lined with good bacteria; it is where water, waste, and fiber pass through and it’s also where nutrients are absorbed by the body. When food isn’t digested well by your small intestine, the food can get stuck in the valve between your small and large intestine. The valve can get stuck open so food goes the wrong way back into the small intestine. When your large intestine has to deal with undigested food, good bacteria exits and in comes parasites, inflammation, and unhealthy bacteria. The result is issues such as constipation, diarrhea, IBS, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and general indigestion.
Low Stomach Acid: Stomach acid, or HCL, breaks down our food into nutrients we can use, and it tends to decrease as we get older. Indigestion is often caused by low stomach acid, and low stomach acid causes immune system dysfunction. Some symptoms of low stomach acid are:
-bloating, gas, or burping after meals
-heartburn
-acne
-hair loss in women
-food allergies
-autoimmune disease
There is no definitive medical test for low stomach acid. You can try the HCL Challenge and take a digestive enzyme before meals with protein, and see how your stomach feels. If you experience any burning or heavy feeling in your stomach, you don’t need it. If you don’t feel anything, you have low stomach acid and need digestive enzymes. I can’t tell you how much my digestion has improved after I started to take digestive enzymes! Here’s how to fix your stomach acid- reduce sugar and processed foods, eat fermented foods and drinks, and consult with a functional medicine doctor about taking digestive enzymes before meals with protein.
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth: SIBO is a condition where bacteria from the large bowel travel up into the small bowel. Too many bacteria are in the wrong place and when they contact undigested food, this turns into bloating and indigestion. Many factors can lead to SIBO including: taking antibiotics, taking NSAIDS (e.g. advil), chronic stress, inflammation, and candida infection.
Inflammation of our intestines related to endo/adeno can also throw off the balance of gut flora. One study found that 80% of women with endometriosis had SIBO. A qualified healthcare practitioner can provide diagnostic testing and treatment for SIBO and guide you to the right gut healing diet. For me, being on a very low carb and no sugar diet for 2 months and taking an anti bacterial herb called berberine got rid of my SIBO.
Stressed Eating: I used to eat lunch every day while I was driving, rushing to my next teaching appointment. And I wondered why my digestion was bad, lol!!! When you are relaxed while eating, you make more digestive enzymes and your body can do it’s “rest and digest” work. Put aside your mental to do list and enjoy your meal. Take a deep breath before you eat, this will only take an extra few seconds.
I grew up eating as fast as I possibly can. Without chewing enough, food is not broken down well in your digestive tract and blockages result from large food particles. Remember to chew your food.
Hormone Imbalance: Adeno and endo are estrogen dependent conditions. Your level of estrogen and progesterone can show up as “normal” on a blood test, however the ratio of estrogen to progesterone may be too high. Why does this happen? It’s hard to get rid of excess estrogen with the gut issues linked to adeno and endo. Adeno and endo themselves can produce more estrogen from uterine tissue itself. High estrogen causes water retention, making adeno/endo belly worse.

What foods help bloating and adeno/endo belly?

  1. Wild Fish
    Tuna and Alaskan salmon are high in Omega 3 fatty acids which increase production of PGE1, the prostaglandin that soothes menstrual symptoms and lessens inflammation. Wild salmon is extremely high in vitamin D. Studies show that vitamin D helps lower the invasion of endometrial cells into the myometrium, basically exactly what you want to stop if you have adenomyosis!
  2. Kale
    Fiber rich kale helps to move excess estrogen out of your body. Kale has lots of antioxidants, vitamin A, K, B6, vitamin C, manganese, copper, and calcium in it. Added bonus- this leafy green can reduce bloating.
  3. Grapes and berries
    Blueberries, blackberries, and red grapes are high in resveratrol. Clinical research shows that reservatrol has both anti inflammatory and antiangiogenic properties and it is “a promising compound for treating adenomyosis” and “effective to prevent the development of endometriosis”.
  4. Spinach
    Spinach is full of folate, fiber, iron, and other nutrients, like alpha lipoic acid. Alpha lipoic acid has been found to reduce inflammation and help reduce endometrial cyst size.
    Mayan Abdominal Massage for adeno/endo belly:
    I couldn’t have gotten my adeno/endo belly to go away without Mayan Abdominal Massage. My practitioner could feel where my intestines were clogged and misaligned and helped to get things flowing better. Once she pointed out the blockages I could feel how my stomach was bloated and stuck in these areas. The Arvigo Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Massage was created by Dr. Rosita Arvigo. Mayan Abdominal Massage helps to position your uterus, bladder, and intestines in their proper positions. Once your organs are in the right place, blood flow improves, tight muscles in the belly relax, and food can flow through the intestines more easily.
    I offer free discovery calls to see if we would like to work together on a personalized, step-by-step plan to transform your adeno/endo belly, hormones, and/or heavy and painful periods. I help women find adenomyosis and heavy period relief through Overhaul Adenomyosis coaching. Find me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/transformadeno , on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/periodsloveandwayfinding/ , or email at hello@saralopez.net.
    Research:
    Ergenoglu, AM et al. 2013. Regression of endometrial implants by resveratrol in an experimentally induced endometriosis model in rats. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23536571/
    Mathias JR. 1998. Relation of endometriosis and neuromuscular disease of the gastrointestinal tract: new insights. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/9660426/
    Luscombe, GM et al. 2009. Abdominal bloating: an under-recognized endometriosis symptom. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/20085682/
    Zhu, Bo, M.D. 2015. Resveratrol Reduces Myometrial Infiltration, Uterine Hyperactivity, and Stress Levels and Alleviates Generalized Hyperalgesia in Mice Induced with Adenomyosis. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1933719115572479?journalCode=rsxb