This isn't exactly "hack my uterus" but there is backstory there.
After I recently complained about my worsening menstrual cramps on Facebook (and it's not even Overshare Wednesday!) my cousin kindly let me know that she and several women on the paternal side of my family have a condition called adenomyosis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adenomyosis
This is the first time I've heard of this so I'll need to do some more exploring. I wanted to pose a question to you fine people to see if you've ever heard of this or ever heard of it being fixed with diet/supplementation/insulin control. I recall that people have cured their endometriosis through proper nutrition. Adenomyosis shares a similar "problem with the uterine lining" but the two diseases may not actually be that similar.
I've been paleo for a year and trying all kinds of eliminations and levels of exercise to help with cramps, none of which have worked.
Maybe it's just genetic and I have to deal with it instead of being able to fix it. If so, can you recommend the best way to decrease estrogen or increase progesterone? The wikipedia article cites some Chinese herbal supplements that are supposed to bind estrogen -- do any of those actually work for anyone? Also, which type of progesterone cream is best (safest, most effective) and what issues should I be aware of before using it?
NSAIDs don't work for me, either. My cousin said she used valium and oxycontin. I'm not an addictive sort of person so I'm not opposed to the heavier-drugs route, but is there anything I should worry about, nutrition or health wise, if I'm taking those kinds of painkillers for a couple days every month?
I will, of course, ask my gyno these things and see if she'll get me a hormone panel in light of this new information about my family history before I go messing with anything.
So! To recap:
I appreciate any input!
Some forward thinking docs are trying aromatase inhibitors to treat endometriosis, so, eat lots of cruciferous vegetables for their diindolylmethane content (natural aromatase inhibition). Aromatase helps transform testosterone into estrogens.
My impression in dealing with menstrual issues, is that a lot of things we think of as "antinutrients" are quite good at balancing hormones. Don from Primal Wisdom noted that his wife was having hormonal issues on paleo and that he knew other women who were having the same problem. Those "binding" supplements you mention are essentially "antinutrients." In my experience with treating these kind of things for myself, as long as your mineral status is and digestion are good, it's worth trying to load on the vegetables and non-gluten grains. I've had some success with buckwheat and more nuts for myself. I would try the cruciferous vegs listed by TheOriginalKaz, but they bother my stomach.
Also, balancing the fatty acids in your diet can help normalize prostaglandin synthesis, which seems to be abnormal for women with painful menstrual cramping.
Have you gotten the Adenomyosis diagnosis at the doctor though or are you assuming you have it based on family history? Have you had any genotyping done?
I just want to note, you should talk to you gyno first and foremost about this. My mother had this condition (along with other possible complications, which remained undiagnosed), and ended up having an emergency hysterectomy. She had been treating it with a progesterone cream at the time, and had tried "everything under the sun" as far as alternative therapies go, including Chinese herbs. She was in pain much of the time- it worsened considerably after the age of 40 for her. The pain and symtoms had started shortly after the birth of my eldest brother (we were all c-section, which her doctor said was possibly enough trauma to "trigger" it, especially because the first c-section was a bitch botched and an emergency). She ended up, after heavy bleeding for 14 days, passing out while shopping, and had a fibroid basically "tear" the lining of her uterus, so she ended up bleeding out about half of her total blood volume. She almost died, and it took her months to recover.
She now says that she regrets not treating it more aggressively in the traditional way. Before her hysterectomy and emergency surgery, she had been hospitalized twice for passing out from heavy bleeding. She was also anemic, due to the heavy, heavy bleeding she always has had. The "heavy" feeling she had in her abdomen/legs also interfered with exercising, and she had to constantly go to the bathroom because of the pressure on her bladder.
I didn't mean to scare you by this story, it just seemed relevant and my mother likes to tell women about it so they don't put off treatment until they get to that point. Basically, take home message: explore all your options, but if it gets really bad (you are having a hard time functioning day-to-day, you are bleeding heavily) don't be afraid to try more aggressive hormonal treatment.
In answer to question #2:
I've just started taking my C & E, so too early to tell if they will help with my cramps, but I found this article today that was interesting & topical: