Speaking about the lifestyle changes she made, Douvall stated,"Within a few months of making these changes I felt so much better. I rarely suffer at all with it now. The dietary plan takes some discipline but it's a small price to pay to get my life back."
Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining of the womb grows outside of the uterus. In addition to substantial pain and fatigue, endometriosis can also cause infertility and problems with the bowels and bladder. Douvall says that in addition to the endometriosis, she was also diagnosed with fibroids and an ovarian cyst.
"My periods used to be fairly regular but then they started going haywire – they went really heavy and I was bleeding in between periods. Then one day I woke up in a pool of blood. It was absolutely terrifying," the former glamour model explained. Douvall added that it took nearly three years to get her diagnosis of endometriosis. A lengthy time-frame for diagnosing the painful condition seems to be the standard -- it can take over 7 years for endometriosis to be diagnosed after the symptoms start.
Douvall, a mom-of-two, says that at first, doctors tried putting her on birth control pills to manage the symptoms of her endometriosis. But ultimately, hormonal birth control failed to ease her pain -- and painkillers like ibuprofen failed to provide relief as well. She commented, "My medicine cabinet made me look like a junkie. But nothing worked and I knew I couldn't go on the way I was."
Surgery was performed to remove her fibroids and cyst, as well as to cut out patches of endometriosis tissue. For two or three years, everything seemed to be great -- Douvall says she even thought she was cured. But within three years, the devastating pain and other symptoms flared right back up. One morning, the star said, she woke up in a pool of her own blood. This time, doctors said her only option was a total hysterectomy -- which would essentially cause her to go into early menopause. But, Douvall chose a different path.
Instead of undergoing major surgery, the TV star chose to start an alternative medicine regimen, complete with acupuncture, a selection of Chinese herbal supplements and a specially-designed diet to control the symptoms of endometriosis. Recent research has shown that acupuncture is more effective for managing the pain associated with endometriosis than hormone drug therapies. A team from Tongji University found that 92 percent of women who received acupuncture felt relief, compared to just 52 percent who took drug therapies. Further, the team found that one year later, more women from the drug group cited a recurrence of endometrial pain.
She started her new diet with the help of Dr Xiao-Ping Zhai, founder of The Zhai Clinic in London. Zhai is a fertility specialist in the city. While there is not much research on nutrition for endometriosis, it's believed that following a healthy diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can be quite beneficial.
Along with cutting out processed foods and sugary snacks, Douvall cut out spicy foods and started keeping dairy to a minimum. Douvall's diet now focuses on fruits, vegetables and eggs. Other foods, like potatoes, rice, nuts, beans and soy, are eaten in moderation. British nutritionist Dian Shepperson Mills says that in addition to avoiding fatty foods like red meat and dairy, avoiding pesticides and other toxins is imperative to reducing inflammation and improving pain. She adds that many women have had success with this type of diet.
According to Douvall, the benefits of her new lifestyle became evident in just a few months -- and that she hardly suffers any pain these days, thanks to alternative medicine.
Sources for this article include: