If you struggle with endometriosis, you’re not alone. In fact, researchers estimate that more than 200 million women worldwide have this condition.
With endometriosis, the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus, such as on the fallopian tubes. During menstrual cycles, the endometrial tissue that’s inside the uterus sheds out normally.
But, the endometrial tissue that’s growing outside of the uterus has nowhere to go, and this can lead to the formation of adhesions and cause other issues, such as severe cramping, chronic pain, abnormal bleeding, and difficulty conceiving.
While there’s no cure for the condition, there are things you can do to help manage it. In this blog, board-certified OB/GYN Asia Mohsin, MD, and the team at Progressive Women’s Health in Friendswood, Texas, explain how you can best manage it.
Endometriosis causes painful periods. Studies show that over-the-counter pain relievers can work either alone or with other treatments prescribed by your doctor to ease your discomfort.
While many women wait to take pain medicines until they experience pain, Dr. Mohsin often suggests getting ahead of endometriosis by taking painkillers before the pain grows and becomes severe.
By taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as naproxen or ibuprofen, 24 hours before you believe your period will begin, you can block your body from producing the chemicals that trigger inflammation. Recent research suggests they can also reduce heavy menstrual bleeding.
Make sure to always talk with your provider before taking new medications or stopping medications previously prescribed to manage your endometriosis.
While it may be difficult to see the connection at first, the foods you eat can have a big impact on your endometriosis symptoms and how severe your condition becomes. Studies suggest by focusing on a whole foods, anti-inflammatory diet, you may be able to ease your symptoms and better manage your condition.
This means staying away from processed and fast foods, sugary beverages, alcohol, and foods that are difficult to digest. Instead, focus on mostly plant-based foods, such as dark leafy greens, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins, such as legumes and beans.
You’ll also want to eat whole fats high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as avocados, nuts, flaxseed, walnuts, and coconut. And be sure to snack on antioxidant rich foods, such as dark chocolate, berries, and oranges.
The symptoms of endometriosis can make you want to curl up and stay on the couch all day. While Dr. Mohsin understands that your condition can make it hard to feel like exercising, getting and staying active can go a long way to easing your endometriosis pain.
Exercise helps suppress estrogen production and increases blood circulation. Being physically active also releases feel-good endorphins, which may help you feel better.
When you’re struggling with the pain of endometriosis, sleep can prove elusive, causing you to feel sluggish and fatigued. Research shows that this, in turn, can make your uncomfortable symptoms worse by amplifying your pain.
Even when it’s difficult, by focusing on healthy sleep practices and trying to get enough high-quality sleep, you can better manage your endometriosis. Start by creating a relaxing routine at bedtime.
Avoid napping during the day if possible, and don’t drink caffeinated beverages too close to your bedtime. Furthermore, you can try other things that might help you sleep better, such as keep your room dark and cool, wear a sleep mask, use a white noise machine, and keep your bedroom for sleeping only.
Your body and mind are intimately connected. What affects one can impact the other. That’s why living with pain can be exhausting physically and emotionally.
By paying attention to your mind and doing things to help ease your mental discomfort, such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or yoga, you may also be able to help your body feel better.
If you’re experiencing symptoms that concern you or are difficult to manage, be sure to talk about them with your gynecologist. At Progressive Women’s Health, our team listens to your concerns and makes recommendations based on your past experiences and present symptoms.
Don’t wait to seek help, because the sooner you get professional support, the easier it is to manage your symptoms. Plus, early treatment can help preserve your fertility if you wish to have children in the future.
Dr. Mohsin may recommend some of the above tips as well as different medical interventions to ease your discomfort and help you reclaim your quality of life, including: