Endometriosis: 18 ways to treat and manage symptoms

Endometriosis affects 10% of women globally and often takes years to be formally diagnosed. Even with a diagnosis, endometriosis can be crippling and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or even lost about how to manage symptoms and live with the inevitable pain.

I finally felt vindicated and used my profession and determination to look into treatments and management plans to help control my symptoms and get my life back under control and relatively symptom free, which is exactly what I did.

Here is a post that will hopefully provide other women with more information and aid with their own treatment plans. But before we get into that, let’s start at the beginning.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a long term condition in women where similar tissue that lines the inside of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. This most commonly occurs on organs within the pelvis such as the ovaries, intestines, bladder, vagina and cervix.

The endometriums purpose is to prepare our uterus for pregnancy. If no fertilisation takes place within your cycle, the endometrium breaks down and expels the body as blood which happens every 28 days. This is known as menstruation, aka, your period. When the tissue grows outside the uterus, it often has no place to exit and becomes trapped. This can cause the surrounding tissue to develop irritation, scarring and adhesions. This often leads in fibrous tissue to develop on and within organs and surrounding tissue causing it to stick together, resulting in pain and other undesirable symptoms that come with endometriosis such as;

On average, it takes 8 years for endometriosis to be diagnosed and the pain that we experience can often be dismissed as “just period pain” or “an abnormal cycle”, especially in younger women. It can also be mistaken as other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

If it is suspected that you have endometriosis, you may undergo a pelvic exam, ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Although these tests can find abnormalities, they are unable to detect the severity or extent of endometriosis. In fact, they don’t even even give a guaranteed diagnosis of endometriosis. The only way that endometriosis can be formally detected and confirmed is via laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is where a surgeon will create small incisions in your abdomen whilst you’re under general anaesthesia and search for signs of endometrial tissue outside of your uterus.

Although the exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, it is believed to be a genetic condition. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, please inform your doctor.

Endometriosis is a life long condition which is present for the entirety of a woman’s reproductive life. There are ways of reducing symptoms, managing the condition and maintaining a healthy and happy life and I’m here to share it!

How to reduce pain

Wireless heat pad: Heat is one of the best sources of pain relief when it comes to the onset of cramps that have you crippled over in pain. Applying heat to your lower abdomen aids in relaxing muscles therefore decreasing the intensity of cramps. It isn’t always possible to hold a heat pack to the abdomen but thankfully there are many chargeable heat pads on the market to be worn comfortably under clothes throughout the day. Perfect for busy women on the go.

Take a warm bath: In addition to dry heat from a wireless heat pad, a nice warm bath can help sufferers sit back and relax while cramps reduce in severity. In addition to reducing immediate pain, taking time to reduce stress levels also benefits the severity of Endometriosis pain in the long term.

Medication: If it is safe to do so, using anti-inflamatory medications such as ibuprofen reduces swelling, bloating and pain associated with endometriosis pain. If you have a contradicting health conditions or are taking other medications, it is best to discuss medication options with your doctor.

Stay hydrated: Maintaining hydration helps balance our electrolytes in addition to reduce bloating that so many of us experience with endometriosis. Make sure to drink according to your daily activity to ensure adequate hydration. If keeping on top of your water intake is difficult, it is worth investing in a measured drink bottle.

How to manage symptoms

Mindfulness and breathing techniques: The onset of Endometriosis and high stress levels are directly correlated. Stress naturally increases the inflammation response in the body and therefore can increase the intensity and severity of pain being experienced with the condition. Taking moments out of the day to meditate and relax can help decrease overall inflammation and therefore pain associated with endometriosis.

Yoga and pilates: As mentioned previously, reducing stress is pivotal in managing inflammation and pain symptoms. High impact exercise such as heavy weight lifting and vigorous running can often contribute to stress in our bodies. Opting for low impact exercises such as yoga and pilates provides a much needed workout in addition to providing benefits associated with stress control.

Eat anti-inflammatory: inflammation and bloating can also be reduced by hearing a well balanced and anti-inflammatory diet. Opting for green leafy vegetables, berries, fatty fish and nuts are an absolute baseline dietary requirement for when I experience an endometriosis flare up and believe me, it works wonders.

Drink tea: Tea has been used in various ancient traditions and is believed to provide all sorts of benefits and boost health. The problem now is that there is so many different teas to choose from a remedies they provide. Choosing teas with anti-inflammatory effects such as green tea or turmeric tea or even those that provide calming effects such as chamomile can all be beneficial to sip on prior going to bed.

Reduce toxin exposure: Environmental toxicants bind to activate with our oestrogen receptors which to put it bluntly, are responsible for female hormone productions and distribution. When this happens a number of problems can occur, one being endometriosis symptoms being enhanced. Cutting down our toxin exposure in topical treatments, home products and even foods can help restore this hormonal balance and lessen the severity of our symptoms.

How to maintain a activités and a healthy life

Make healthy changes to your lifestyle: This one may seem easy and we often think we know what we need to do. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by eating healthy, drinking enough water and getting enough exercise in everyday. This is especially if we haven’t necessarily done this before. Making small changes day by day and building on them is more effective than not at all. Just take it step by step.

Have a safe space: This one relates directly back to reducing stress. If you’re like me then you may have a chaotic work place and become overwhelmed by family and friends. Find a safe space that you enjoy visiting and look forward to spending time alone there. Whether this is going for a walk, hiding out in a local cafe or my personal favourite, stepping out into nature. There’s somewhere for everyone to soak up that much needed alone time and decompress from life pressures.

Travel prepared: Keep yourself an endometriosis care pack near by in case of an onset of symptoms. This could be in your desk at work, in your car or at your ready in your bag. It’s always a useful tool to have a heat pack, sanitary items and pain relief at your ready to lessen the burden and pressure on yourself.

Find a good health professional: After speaking with many women it is unfortunately evident there are still a proportion of health professionals out there who aren’t educated on or even open to learning about endometriosis. Being a health professional myself, I find this very frustrating that such a common problem is often underplayed and not known about. My best advice is, if your doctor isn’t listening to you and you feel misunderstood, don’t feel obligated to stay. Find another and be open to referrals from your GP.

Find a support group: Like many other women, I felt alone when I was diagnosed with endometriosis. It isn’t a topic many of us talk about or are open about. Thankfully I reached out to an acquaintance who had been open with her journey who put me in touch with support and awareness groups such as on Facebook and instagram. These pages and groups involve a lot of open and honest people who are dealing with he same problems and is generally a safe place for learning and asking questions, making you feel less alone.

Stay positive: This one can be easier said than done. A lot of women often lose hope with their conditions and feel like there is no solution. Keep trying and advocate for yourself. Just remember, if something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not.

I’m an Australian blogger based in Central West NSW who has spent the last few years exploring the four corners of the globe, living as an expat and falling in love with the world just a little bit more everyday. Here you can find my tips, guides and experiences to help inspire you for your next trip!

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