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New (natural) hope for the painful reality of endometriosis

Dr. Marita Schauch
Research is finding that the supplement N-acetylcysteine has potential to decrease endometriosis and improve fertility.

Endometriosis is a gynecological disease that affects roughly 10 percent of reproductive-age women. It causes severe pain and cramping in the pelvis and lower abdomen, extremely painful menstrual cramping, pain from penetration during sex, abnormal bleeding, and, ultimately, infertility.

It’s an incredibly challenging disease that women contend with and, until recently, the only courses of action for treatment were highly disruptive hormone therapy, heavy-duty pain killers or invasive surgery.

It was a bleak situation for women’s gynecological health.

Luckily, research is starting to show that a natural supplement called N-acetylcysteine (NAC) can drastically decrease endometriosis and improve fertility—without the negative side effects that come from messing with our hormones, taking pain killers or having surgery.

One study in particular, conducted in Italy, shows promising results. Ninety-two women were divided into two groups: 47 were given 600 mg of NAC three times a day, three consecutive days a week, for three months. Forty-five were not. All 92 women suffered from endometriosis, had not had any hormonal treatment in the previous two months and were scheduled for surgery.

The results were significant: In the NAC group, 24 patients canceled their surgery, 14 had decreased ovarian cysts (a painful byproduct of endometriosis and contributor to the overall condition), eight had a complete disappearance of cysts, 21 had pain reduction and one became pregnant.

In the control group, only one patient canceled her surgery, and four patients had a disappearance of cysts.

In both groups, four patients saw new cyst growth.

So what do the numbers mean?

NAC may be just as effective at reducing the impacts of endometriosis and treating its growth, without the side effects of current treatments. A huge consideration for women with endometriosis is their fertility; hormone treatment can often be just as disruptive to fertility as the disease itself. NAC, on the other hand, has been shown to improve fertility. In fact, eight patients from the NAC group in the above study became pregnant soon after the trial.

The suffering caused by endometriosis and its relatively high incidence among women in their prime childbearing years is a genuine cause for concern. What’s more, invasive treatment of the disease has been the only option for a long time. NAC may represent a new, natural hope for those suffering from this unfortunate condition.

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