Tips for Living With Endometriosis

Dealing with the pain of endometriosis can be difficult for many reasons. You might miss days from school or work, have to skip social events, or give up sports or other hobbies. This can all take a physical and emotional toll on your overall well-being.

Luckily, there are many ways to manage your pain and stress with some lifestyle changes so you can make yourself as comfortable as possible.

Eat Right

Research has shown a link between endometriosis and diets that are low in fruits and vegetables and high in red meat. Some experts think the high amount of fat in meat like beef encourages your body to produce chemicals called prostaglandins, which may lead to more estrogen production. This extra estrogen could be what causes excess endometrial tissue to grow.

Add more fresh fruits and vegetables by making them the heart of your meals. Stocking your refrigerator with pre-washed and cut fruit and vegetables can help you eat more of both.

Research has also found foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and walnuts, to be helpful. One study showed that women who ate the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids had were 22% less likely to develop endometriosis than the women who ate the least amount.

By comparison, women who ate the most trans fats had a 48% higher risk than those who ate the least, so the type of fat you eat matters.

Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine. Drinking caffeinated coffee and soda seems to increase your chances of developing endometriosis, although researchers aren’t sure why. Alcohol is also associated with a higher risk.

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Exercise Regularly

There are a lot of reasons exercise is a great way to manage your endometriosis. Working out encourages your heart to pump blood to all your organs, improve circulation, and help nutrients and oxygen flow to all your systems.

Women who also exercise may produce less estrogen and have lighter periods, which can help improve their symptoms of endometriosis over time. But there’s even more: Studies have shown that the more time you devote to high-intensity exercises like running or biking, the less likely you are to ever develop endometriosis.

Exercise helps reduce stress, and since it releases brain chemicals called endorphins, it can actually relieve pain. Even just a few minutes of a physical activity that makes you breathe hard or sweat can create that effect.

Lower-intensity workouts like yoga can be beneficial, too, by stretching the tissues and muscles in your pelvis for pain relief and stress reduction.

Manage Your Stress

Researchers believe stress can make endometriosis worse. In fact, the condition itself might be the cause of your stress because of the severe pain and other possible side effects.

Finding ways to manage stress -- whether it’s through yoga, meditation, or by simply carving out time for self-care -- can help you minimize your symptoms. It may also be helpful to see a therapist who can offer tips and techniques for dealing with stress.

Alternative Therapies

While there isn’t enough research that support the use of alternative natural therapies for endometriosis, some women find relief from their symptoms through these techniques including:

If you’re interested in trying an alternative therapy, be sure to talk to your doctor first, especially if you’re considering taking over-the-counter supplements. They could have side effects that you don’t know about. And never exceed the recommended dosage or take more than one supplement at a time.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH on October 4, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Center for Young Women’s Health: “Endometriosis: Coping with Pain.”

HealthyWomen.org: “Lifestyle and Dietary Changes for Endometriosis.”

Missmer, S., Human Reproduction. 2010.

Grodstein F., American Journal of Epidemiology. 1993.

Perper, M., Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research. April 1993.

Carolinas Healthcare System: “Diet and Exercise Tips to Alleviate Endometriosis Symptoms.”

The American Physiological Society: “New Study Finds Uncontrollable Stress Worsens Symptoms of Endometriosis.”

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health: “Endometriosis -- Emotions,” “Management & Treatment.”

Kong S., Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, February 2014,

Women’s Health Victoria: “Natural Therapies for the Treatment of Endometriosis.”

Mayo Clinic: “Endometriosis -- Alternative medicine.”

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