Health

I Tried The Keto Diet For My Endometriosis Pain — & Here’s What I Discovered

Spoiler alert- It ends with me in the hospital.

Are you ready for a crazy statistic?

Research has discovered that over 1 in every 10 females has endometriosis. 1 in 10!

So why have so many people never heard of this disease? It may have something to do with the fact that this disease revolves around a…get ready for it…period. (cue dramatic dun dun dun)

Although it is 2021 and female anatomy is finally seeming to become less of a taboo topic, I’m still often greeted by horrified stares if I’m heard explaining what endometriosis is in public because God forbid someone hears me talk about my uterus. So buckle up period-fearers because it’s about time we normalize this sh*t.

For those unfamiliar with this prevalent disease, Endometriosis is when the cells that typically line the uterus every month, decide to take a hike and grow on the outside of your uterus as well. This endometrial tissue can attach and grow anywhere from your intestines, to your organs, to even inside scar tissue. These growths commonly bind these parts of your body together and can cause severe pain and infertility.

As the ultimate kicker, this disease is incredibly difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat. Endometriosis is still not well understood and as of today, it has no cure. Because this disease has no permanent cure, the sufferers are left grasping at straws to find any form of relief they can.

Before jumping into my most recent experiment with the Keto diet, let me first preface this by giving you a little background on my previous endometriosis treatments. The first five years I was experiencing pain I was told that I just had ‘bad periods’ and that throwing up from the pain of my period every month was normal and ‘just part of being a woman’. After being sent to the ER 3 times by doctors who were convinced my appendix had ruptured (spoiler alert, it hadn’t), the diagnosis of Endometriosis was finally entertained. I then spent the next 2 years undergoing rigorous testing to ‘rule out’ any other possible cause, since Endometriosis diagnoses can generally only be confirmed by the process of elimination. Two more visits with specialists and surgery to remove the growths later and that’s where you will find me today.

After years of dealing with daily pain from this disease, I have learned what helps mitigate the pain. For me, it’s a combo of added progesterone (such as an IUD), avoiding certain cardio such as long runs or biking, and dietary changes like cutting out soy and red meat. But even when following all of my ‘endo rules’ strictly, I was still searching for something that could help make the pain more manageable.

This is what brings me to the topic of the Keto diet.

Do you mean the fad diet that celebrities swear by to lose weight?

Yup, that one.

If you search diets for endometriosis pain, the Keto Diet isn’t going to be the first (or even the third) option that comes up, but personally, I was already following all the other recommendations and was still searching for added relief.

I quickly jumped into the world of strict ‘clean keto’, keeping my net carbs under 20 grams a day and avoiding any processed food or fake sugars.

The ‘clean’ part of the Keto diet that I mentioned above is incredibly important if you are trying this diet to reduce inflammation since many ‘keto treats’ found at the store are full of inflammatory fake sugars and lack the vitamins and minerals your body desperately needs.

At the risk of sounding dramatic, by the third day my mind had been officially blown by the possitive affects that going into ketosis has on endometriosis inflammation and pain.

The second my body went into ketosis, not only did my swelling go completely away but my pain was GONE….yes, completely gone. I was so excited to finally find relief that I swore right then that I would never go off the diet because as difficult as the diet was, the results were too good to go off of it.

About two months into this diet I was preaching the benefits to anyone who would listen, but there were some pretty daunting downsides and a sad reality that I had to come to terms with. The reality of this magical cure that I had discovered for myself was that it was entirely unsustainable in the long run.

Relief from pain and swelling was only found when my body was in full ketosis which required me to stay under 20 grams of net carbs a day, with no room for cheat snacks since that would instantly take me out of ketosis. Add to this the fact that I was avoiding any processed ketogenic foods and having to perfectly maintain my macros and that left me with about 10 food items I could eat a combination of.

Two months in I was feeling the weight of my strict diet starting to take a toll on my happiness, but I was still determined to push through it because I was convinced that there was no way I was ever going back to dealing with ‘ruptured appendix’ levels of pain every day. Despite my determination to stick with the ketogenic diet, my body ultimately made the decision to go off the diet for me….

One night I was suddently jolted out of bed with immense pressure in my chest causing the inability to breathe, with a hardbeat so strong and fast it felt like my heart was flipping over inside my chest. Although it felt like a lifetime, this lasted about 10 seconds before fading away.

Despite being freaked out by the incident, I was eventually able to fall back asleep. The next afternoon while doing the dishes, I came to a sudden stop as my breath was taken away and my heart suddenly started pounding yet again. I thought to myself, my asthma is acting so weird, it’s never happened like this before! but ended up chalking it up to seasonal allergies triggering my asthma to act in new ways.

It wasn’t until two weeks later when these episodes were still occurring once to twice a day, that it hit me that maybe it wasn’t my asthma, but instead that something could be seriously wrong with my heart. After an urgent doctor’s visit resulted in an abnormal EKG, I was sent to the hospital for a Stress Test and to be set up with a Holter Heart Monitor. The doctors seemed puzzled as to why an active 24-year-old was experiencing these issues, that is until they asked about my diet.

As soon as I spoke the words “Keto”, I could see that the doctors immediately had their answer. They explained to me that even if the fats I was consuming are only “healthy fats”, that the heart can’t process such high levels of fat regardless of the type. I was instructed to stop the diet immediately and continue to monitor my abnormal heart palpitations. From that day on, I never experienced another episode again.

Luckily, only a month later, pain relief was brought to me in the form of surgery. With all the endometriosis removed am I happy to report that I am currently pain-free. Although I can quickly say I will never return to the Keto Diet, I think it’s important to highlight that everybody has different needs and will react differently to dietary changes. My shared experience is not intended to shame those interested in the Keto Diet, but to bring awareness to how this diet may affect heart health.

Have you experienced any unexpected side effects while on the Keto Diet? Share with me in the comments section below!

1 comment on “I Tried The Keto Diet For My Endometriosis Pain — & Here’s What I Discovered

  1. julesadesign

    Hello Lov, Great article. So sad you had to go through Endo for so long!

    Like

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