Endometriosis cases range from mild to severe, and the pain and discomfort can be debilitating. In addition to discomfort, endometriosis is also a common cause of female infertility, so it’s absolutely essential to pursue accurate diagnosis, treatment, and/or relief from inflammation if you plan to have children down the road.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Painful periods
- Cramps that can become debilitating
- Periods that are very heavy or last much longer than normal
- Pain during intercourse or right afterwards
- Lower pelvic/intestinal pain
- Pain during intercourse or bowel movements
- Spotting or bleeding between periods
None of these are considered “normal” and should be discussed with your gynecologist to ensure you are supported.
5 Tips to Reduce Endometriosis Symptoms Besides Pain Meds
First and foremost, always be honest with your gynecologist or physician about the degree and type of pain or discomfort you experience with endometriosis. Laparoscopic surgery may be an option, and the removal of endometrial tissue and scarring improves endometriosis symptoms and side effects.
Even so, patients with endometriosis often experience discomfort – from minor to extreme – particularly just before and during their period.
We encourage patients to use antiinflammatory/pain relievers as recommended by their doctor. But we also like to share pain relief tips that can reduce your need for OTC or prescription meds.
1. Wireless heating pads (or “heated rice socks”)
Most of our patients are devoted to their heating pads and are rarely without one in their favorite chair, couch spot, bed stand, or travel bag. Wireless heating pads are a newer addition to the market, and operate on a charge so you aren’t limited by outlets or the length of the cord.
We also have patients who prefer heated rice socks, which provide the combination of heat and a little bit of pressure or weight, which seems to provide extra comfort. You can cheaply make your own by filling a long tube sock with rice. Tie it securely, and then microwave it for about two minutes – testing to make sure it’s warm but not too hot. Then lay it across your lower abdomen.
2. Try an endometriosis (anti inflammatory) diet
Many patients find that by minimizing inflammation from other triggers, their endometriosis symptoms subside a bit. Foods shown to exacerbate endometriosis include:
- Foods high in trans fats (fried and fatty processed foods)
- Commercial red meat (grass fed, hormone-free meats are much better for you)
- High-FODMAP food
While 30 days may be enough to notice a difference, it may require three to four months (and multiple menstrual cycles) to establish whether an endometriosis diet, which prioritized antiinflammatory foods, makes a difference for you.
Visit Getting Started with an Endometriosis Diet to learn more.
3. Get the emotional support you need
There are endometriosis support groups out there, and we highly recommend joining one. It is always comforting to communicate, share, and listen to others who understand what you are going through. Stress and worry exacerbate inflammation, so you just might find that connecting with other women with endometriosis can have physical benefits as well.
The website, speakendo.com has a page dedicated to groups and organizations – largely peer-based – to provide endometriosis care, support, and outreach. Visit speakendo.com’s endometriosis Support Page and see if one or more of the groups resonate with you.
4. Try hormonal birth control
Taking the pill – even a low dose version – is a first-step treatment for endometriosis. So is the Depo-Provera shot and other forms of hormonal birth control. By getting control of your body’s reproductive hormone cycles and balance (or lack thereof) many women find their endometriosis fades into the background. Mild cases may be eliminated altogether.
5. Get plenty of exercise
We know that exercising is the last thing you may feel like doing when you’re bloated, tender, or in pain. However, the endorphins and other “feel good” hormones associated with exercising act as Mother Nature’s pain relievers. Exercise can also help boost estrogen levels, which supports women who are planning (or trying) to get pregnant.
If you’re having a bad endometriosis day, try taking a walk or hike or doing a restorative yoga class on YouTube rto keep blood circulating without straining your abdomen. Swimming or gentle water exercises are also helpful, especially if you can do them in a jacuzzi or heated pool. Just remember to keep moving – even if you move slowly – at least 15 minutes (30 is better) each day.
Are you looking for personalized support and relief for your endometriosis pain? Schedule an appointment with OB/GYN Associates of Spokane.