Endometriosis is a condition that approximately 10 percent of women suffer. It is a painful condition that occurs when the tissue that usual lines the uterus grows outside of the uterine wall. It causes abdominal pain along with symptoms like heavy periods, nausea and bloating, and can only be properly diagnosed and treated through laparoscopic surgery. If left undiagnosed, it can become incredibly serious and in some cases, cause infertility. It can be hereditary.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis after the birth of my first child, after years of suffering from incredibly painful periods, fainting, being sick and feeling incredibly tired. It interfered with school, and later work with my weekend job at the supermarket being interrupted by fainting spells. I was put on the pill, which helped initially, but after a few years the negatives far outweighed the positives. Having surgery helped my symptoms, and I fell pregnant with my daughter soon after. That was two years ago, and the symptoms have started to return.
A few months ago my symptoms eased a lot. While this may have been a coincidence (and they may have just been building up), I believe it is because at that time I was eating much better and exercising more frequently. It finally twigged that these were probably the reasons why I was feeling better than I had for a while.
I thought I would share my top five ways to ease endometriosis symptoms (mostly) naturally, and hopefully help some other women along the way as it is not a pleasant condition to have.
1. Eat well
It makes sense, but eating less processed food, less sugar and less fat definitely makes a difference to me. Fuelling your body with good food will nourish it and help it run at it’s best. While I definitely have a fondness for chocolate, keeping the rest of my diet relatively healthy eases my symptoms. One of my main symptoms is bloating, so limiting fatty foods makes a big difference to me. I try to eat lots of green vegetables, whole grains and some fruit. As a vegetarian, I need to make sure I still get plenty of protein so try to use ingredients like lentils and beans in my cooking.
2. Drink plenty of water
Water is an integral part of a healthy diet, and really flushes your body of nasties. I try to drink a litre a day (or more if I can stomach it), but it is difficult at work or in Winter time. If you struggle with drinking water, you could try adding a slice of lemon or lime, a dash of low sugar cordial, or a sparkling water (Mount Franklin make a lightly flavoured version that is very tasty). Kikki K make cute daily planners that even let you track your water intake. Try to avoid alcohol and sugary soft drinks.
3. Get moving
Exercise is a major symptom reliever for me. It lessens the pain, bloating and nausea. Something as simple as going for a walk each day can make a big difference. I love yoga and stretching as a pain reliever – downward dog, the up and down cat poses, and child’s pose are my favourites. Exercise has so many other health benefits as well, so you will only have something positive to gain from trying it.
4. Apply heat
Have a hot shower, apply a heat pack, take a warm bath or dig out your hot water bottle – heat is an amazing pain reliever. My favourite thing to use is a wheat pack, but make sure you take care when heating it as there have recently been news reports about fires starting inside the packs. Many wheat packs come with a lavender scent, which can relax you even further. Placing heat on your front or back allows the muscles to relax and it will help to alleviate uncomfortable cramps.
5. Medicinal pain relief
We are lucky that there are now so many pain relief options available to us. Naprogesic and Ponstan are two of the most well known tablets, and work to help relieve symptoms as well as pain. Many well known companies now offer a specific period pain product, but standard ibuprofen works well in my experience. I am not a doctor – please ensure you consult with yours before taking any medicines. While I will often try a non-medicinal remedy in the first instance, I know that the majority of the time I can’t get away with not taking pain relief.
Even though these tips may seem like common sense, I hope they will help some women. If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, please go to your doctor to be checked. It can be embarrassing to have to speak about ‘women’s issues’, but it is worth being examined before an issue becomes serious. For more information about endometriosis, please visit Jean Hailes for Women’s Health.
Do you suffer from endometriosis or any other condition? What are your tips to ease pains or help you feel better?