Endometriosis is a disorder where the lining of your uterus grows outside your uterus. It can grow in many places, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, and rectum.
When inside the uterus, this tissue sheds every month during menstruation. The tissue outside the uterus acts the same way, but can’t easily leave your body. This is what causes pain and inflammation.
Not everyone has symptoms with endometriosis. If you do, you typically experience moderate to severe pelvic pain that worsens during your period. Other symptoms include infertility, pain with sex, fatigue, heavy periods, bleeding between periods, diarrhea, and more.
Tips for living with endometriosis
Endometriosis has no cure, which is why we recommend focusing on managing symptoms. Here are tips to help you live with endometriosis:
1. Take pain medication as needed
Scientists believe women with endometriosis produce more prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance. Prostaglandin has many jobs in the body, including making the womb contract during menstruation to help shed the uterine lining.
OTC pain relievers, like ibuprofen, are most effective when taken before prostaglandins are released (several days before you expect your period or endometriosis pain). For extreme pain, prescription medications can offer more relief.
2. Use heat to combat pain
It may seem simple, but a little heat can go a long way in easing the pain from endometriosis. When you use heat therapy, blood vessels dilate, promoting blood flow and helping muscles relax.
Try electric heating pads, hot compresses, heat patches, or try soaking in a hot bath to get relief. Be sure to never use extreme heat as it could result in burns.
3. Change your diet
Studies point to the link between what you eat and endometriosis. Diets high in animal products and red meat can increase estrogen production, which can cause abnormal tissue growth.
To improve life with endometriosis, plan your diet around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like walnuts and flaxseeds. You should also avoid processed foods and foods that contain trans fats. You might want to limit your caffeine and alcohol intake as well.
4. Get (and keep) moving
When you exercise, your body produces less estrogen and increases the circulation of blood. Exercise also releases endorphins in the brain, which can reduce pain sensations.
Both high-intensity and low-intensity exercises help endometriosis. High-intensity activities, such as running, aerobics, or biking, reduce symptoms. Low-intensity activities, like Pilates, calisthenics, or yoga, help reduce stress and manage pelvic pain.
5. Learn about chronic pain management
The chronic pain from endometriosis can interfere with your day-to-day life. It can make you feel depressed, angry, frustrated, and mess with your sleep. When you feel emotional, your pain feels worse, leading to an unending cycle of stress and pain.
Chronic pain management techniques can help you feel better mentally and ease your pain. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist. Some techniques include antidepressant medication, psychotherapy, meditation, and practicing good sleep hygiene.
6. Consider hormone therapy
Hormone therapy eases or ends your menstrual cycle, reducing the pain and inflammation often experienced with endometriosis. It can also help slow endometrial tissue growth, prevent new growth, and reduce endometriosis-related pain.
There are many considerations before undergoing hormone therapy. The caring doctors at New England Women’s Healthcare will evaluate your unique situation and overall health to ensure you get the right treatment.
7. Discuss surgical options with your doctor
Pain medications and management techniques can help you live with endometriosis. Hormone therapy can also slow the growth and help reduce your pain. However, none of these treatments will cure existing endometriosis.
Minimally invasive surgery that removes the endometrial tissue outside your uterus is the only way to treat the underlying cause of endometriosis. In severe cases, a hysterectomy may be recommended to put an end to endometriosis.
Are you tired of the pain? Visit our website to schedule an appointment today!