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Living with Endometriosis: What can I do day-to-day to help reduce symptoms?

Living with Endometriosis: What can I do day-to-day to help reduce symptoms?

Written by Yoppie

16 Mar 2023

What is endometriosis?

How is endometriosis diagnosed and treated? 

What can I do to help reduce pain? 

What can I do to minimise pain during sex?

What can I do to reduce fatigue? 

What else can I do?

Endometriosis was historically a mysterious condition that not many people knew how to diagnose or treat, but thankfully it’s being talked about now more than ever before, and medical professionals are taking endo pain much more seriously. 

That said, many people must still live with its symptoms for years while waiting for an official diagnosis or treatment to begin. If you are living with endometriosis and looking for alternative ways to manage the day-to-day symptoms — other than treatments recommended by doctors, like a laparoscopic procedure — then you’re in the right place. 

Let’s take a look at what else you could be doing in your daily life to better manage the symptoms. But first, a quick reminder…  

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition which causes tissue similar to the kind found in the lining of the womb to grow in places it shouldn’t, like the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Endometriosis is a long-term condition, and depending on the severity of the condition, it can have a massive impact on daily life.

Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age, and it’s thought to be the second most common gynaecological condition after fibroids. Symptoms of endometriosis vary from person to person, with some experiencing mild symptoms and others being very badly affected. The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen, back, pelvis or elsewhere (this typically becomes worse during a period)
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain when urinating or having a bowel movement during your period
  • Nausea
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Blood in urine or poo during a period
  • Fertility issues
  • Very heavy periods

How is endometriosis diagnosed and treated? 

Your doctor may ask about your symptoms, conduct a pelvic exam to feel for abnormalities or cysts, and if needed, perform an ultrasound to see inside. However, the only definitive way to diagnose the condition is through a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy, so if diagnosed this way, treatment for endometriosis often happens simultaneously.

A laparoscopy occurs under general anaesthetic, where a surgeon will make small incisions near the belly button and insert a laparoscope which allows them to see inside your pelvis and check for signs of endometriosis. If they find any, they can attempt to treat it then and there so you only require one surgery. Whether you have not yet had an endometriosis diagnosis or you are awaiting one, there are a few ways you may be able to reduce the negative daily symptoms of endometriosis. 

What can I do to help reduce pain? 

If you suffer from endometriosis pain, you’ll know it can be anything from a little annoying to completely debilitating. A few things can help:

  • Apply heat — Taking a warm bath or applying a hot water bottle to the affected area can help to relax cramping muscles and ease pain. Although this is recommended for general period pain, it can also help those with endometriosis to find some relief. 
  • Stay hydrated — Hydration can help with bloating and cramping, so drink plenty of liquids. 
  • Do a pelvic massage — Since endometriosis pain is usually confined to the pelvic area, a pelvic massage can sometimes ease discomfort. By gently manipulating the pelvis and lower back to increase blood flow, you can relax muscles and reduce pain.

Remember you can also use over-the-counter painkillers or speak to your doctor about medication to help. 

What can I do to minimise pain during sex?

Some people with endometriosis suffer from pain during or after sex, which can feel like a stabbing pain in the abdomen ranging from mild to severe. Here are a few ways you may be able to manage this:

  • Track your symptoms and avoid bad days — Knowing when your endometriosis pain is likely to be at its worst can help you plan and avoid the worst days for pain during sex, and also help your partner worry less about hurting you. 
  • Be mindful of positions — Certain sexual positions will put less pressure on your pelvis, so experiment with your partner to find the least painful positions that allow you to control the depth and speed.
  • Engage in other types of sexual activity — Avoid penetrative sex and stick with things like oral sex, massage, and other forms of foreplay.
  • Lube up — Use plenty of lubrication to reduce the friction and, as a result, the pain.
  • Have a bath — Sometimes taking a warm bath before sex can ease pain during.
  • Communicate — Remember, there should be no pressure to engage in sex if you don’t want to, so if it’s painful, tell your partner this and discuss other options.

What can I do to reduce fatigue? 

One study of 1,120 people with endometriosis and 560 without found 50.7% of those with endo reported frequent fatigue, compared to just 22.4% of those without. If fatigue is something you struggle with due to endo, then you’ll know it can be hard to manage. 

It may sound like basic advice (and it is!) but ultimately the best way to manage fatigue is to rest enough to replenish your energy. Whether that means sleeping longer at night, taking rest time during work hours, or planning ahead to rest before big events, try to incorporate more rest into your day where possible to minimise feelings of fatigue. 

Getting more sleep also helps with pain management since it balances hormone levels, which as a result, manages inflammation and pain. So catch those Zs! 

Want to read more? Check out our article: Daily Life With Endometriosis Fatigue

What else can I do?

Lifestyle changes that improve your overall health can often help minimise symptoms of endometriosis over time. It is thought that by taking the below measures you may notice a reduction in your symptoms, but everyone responds differently so finding the right balance for you is important. 

1. Eat a healthy diet

Researchers have looked at the role of diet in endometriosis since it is connected to processes like inflammation, oestrogen activity, and more. While research is still ongoing, some studies suggest the following could help:

Sometimes we can’t get everything we need from our diet alone; for example, vitamin D, which is thought to help with the symptoms of endometriosis. Certain supplements can be helpful, which is why we created our research-backed Endo Complete Support, with 12 powerful ingredients targeting the symptoms and triggers of endometriosis (read more here!) 

If you are going through a treatment plan with your doctor, it’s always best to speak to them before you introduce anything else so they can advise on whether or not it’s right for you. 

2. Exercise

People with endometriosis pain tend to avoid exercise for obvious reasons. However, it is thought even light to moderate exercise can help to decrease pain and discomfort by increasing the circulation of blood and oxygen flow to your organs, decreasing oestrogen production, and boosting endorphins in the brain that reduce pain. 

In fact, those who engage in some form of high-intensity exercise are around 75% less likely to develop endometriosis. Whether you want to try high-intensity activities like running or spinning, or something more gentle like yoga or walking, you could benefit from a reduction in endometriosis symptoms.

3. Reduce stress

Stress is thought to be a contributing factor to the severity of endometriosis symptoms, and endo symptoms cause stress in return… an ongoing cycle! Managing your everyday stress levels can reduce the pain and discomfort of endometriosis, while providing more general benefits too. Consider activities such as meditation, deep breathing, walking, yoga, or anything else you enjoy doing during “me time”, like painting or sewing. 

You can also remove the stress of having to make excuses to family and friends when you don’t feel up to social gatherings by communicating with your loved ones to let them know how you feel — you may be surprised by how kind and supportive they could be. 

Are you living with endometriosis? Here are some other articles from our Full Stop blog you may find interesting:

Do you have a question about endometriosis? Ask in our Full Stop FB group, or reach out to the team on IG at @itsyoppie so we can help. 

Our website has a short Learn Your Phase questionnaire to help you discover more about your cycle. We love to help people tackle the symptoms associated with the entire cycle — not just the bleed days — so whatever your symptoms or cycle goals are, we’ve got you. 

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