If you’re dealing with pain and inflammation from endometriosis, you’re not alone. About 1 in 10 women and girls deal with this condition, which is caused by tissue that behaves like the uterus lining but grows outside of the uterus. During a woman’s menstrual cycle, it grows and sheds but has no place to exit the body, leading to symptoms that can be severe and disrupt daily life.
In addition to seeking medical treatment, there are several ways you can reduce the severity of endometriosis symptoms by changing your day-to-day habits. If you’re interested in seeing how these tips can help you, read on!
Try an anti-inflammatory diet
In recent years, researchers have found that eating the right foods may have an impact on endometriosis. This disease is linked with inflammation, prostaglandin metabolism (hormones that contribute to regulating menstruation), and estrogen activity, so foods that affect these processes are key. To start seeing how diet affects your symptoms, start with these steps:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Women who eat more fruits and veggies have a 40% reduced risk for endometriosis. In comparison, those who eat a high amount of red meat have an increased risk of between 80% and 100%.
- Get a boost of omega-3 fatty acids. The oils in your diet matter. Trans fats are linked to increased risk for endometriosis, while women with a diet rich in omega-3 oils saw a reduced risk. Try incorporating foods like salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts into your diet to get this benefit.
- Avoid high-FODMAP foods. FODMAP foods have specific carbs that may cause digestive issues in some people. Try eliminating these from your diet to see if a food sensitivity is making your endometriosis symptoms worse.
A 2021 study found that 44% of participants who tried dietary changes reported an average score of 6.4 out of 10 effectiveness for reducing pelvic pain. Talk with a doctor to see how you can develop a meal plan that is right for you.
Reduce stress where you can
Endometriosis certainly can contribute to stress, but stress itself is a factor that can worsen endometriosis symptoms. Stop this cycle by taking proactive steps to center yourself and reduce stress in your life where you can. Try a few of these stress-relieving tactics and see what works for you:
- Making time for a hobby you enjoy
- Doing yoga
- Reading a book
- Listening to calming music
- Taking a warm bath (try one with Epsom salts!)
- Meditating or doing breathing exercises
Focus on getting a good night’s sleep
Many people with endometriosis have trouble getting a restful night of sleep. Unfortunately, a study from 2020 found that poor sleep in women with endometriosis led to increased depression, bladder pain, and a worse overall quality of life. However, practicing good sleep hygiene habits can help. Try incorporating the following into your routine:
- Set bedtimes and wake-up times (and follow them)
- Stop using electronics at least an hour before bedtime—this is a great time to take a warm bath or read a book instead!
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, and make sure it’s dark and quiet
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol later in the day
- Limit daytime naps
- Get regular exercise
Find everyday ways to be active
If you’re experiencing pain, working out is probably the last thing on your to-do list. But being active for just 30 minutes a day can make an impact on endometriosis symptoms. Some of the benefits of routine exercise include:
- A decrease in estrogen production
- Increased circulation of blood to your organs
- Maintained flow of oxygen and nutrients to your body’s systems
- Stress relief
- Boosting mood through a release of endorphins
- Helping you to sleep better
Looking for a new exercise routine that’s right for you? Try these tips to get started.
Seek support and communicate
It generally takes four to seven years for a person with endometriosis to be diagnosed, and many people may feel lost and confused while struggling to understand what’s going on with their health. It may stress your relationships, and many people report difficulties with their sex life, social life, and finances due to symptoms and related issues. It’s important to know that you’re not alone. Whether it’s having a candid, open conversation with your partner or seeking help from a counselor or support group, you can take proactive steps to ease the burden of endometriosis and have an enjoyable, fulfilling life.
These tips can help your day-to-day life, but remember to consider the help of a medical team, as well. With issues like difficulty getting pregnant, severe pain, and overall decreased quality of life, it’s important to get treatment for endometriosis. Whether you’re looking for help with infertility due to endometriosis or just general symptom relief, our OBGYNs at St. Luke's Health have the tools and experience to help. Find a doctor and get started today.