Heating pads are your friend.
Certain treatments and medications for endometriosis may help relieve some pain. Still, you may find that you still have menstrual cramps or other pain throughout the month. That’s why it helps to know a variety of tips to relieve endometriosis pain (or prevent it from getting worse).
For starters, your doctor may recommend birth control or other types of hormone therapy. These medicines may help reduce painful cramps. Talk to your doctor first about potential treatments for your endometriosis.
Tips for Endometriosis Pain
The following tricks and strategies may be helpful for coping with endometriosis pain:
1. Try heat therapy
Apply a heating pad, warm compress, or hot water bottle to the abdomen or lower back. Heat increases blood flow to the area, and this may help with pain relief. Some people also find that warm baths can be soothing when they’re having a lot of pain.
2. Get active
Exercise is another way to improve blood flow. Plus, physical activity releases endorphins, which also helps relieve pain. Endorphins may also help with stress relief, and too much stress can actually worsen pain in some cases.
Regular exercise is ideal, but some people also find it helpful to get up and move while they’re having menstrual cramps — as unappealing as it may be.
3. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fiber
Your diet probably won’t “cure” endometriosis, but it can play a role in your everyday symptoms. For example, some people with endo experience constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. (This occurs when endometrial growths develop on or around the digestive tract.) Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fiber can help ease digestion and reduce straining during bowel movements.
Plus, eating a generally healthy diet may help with your overall mood, energy levels, and well-being. That way, you won’t be adding to your discomfort while having menstrual pain. A healthy diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and lean protein. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water as well, which can help with constipation.
4. See a therapist
Chronic illnesses can be stressful and increase the risk of depression. It’s hard to manage a condition and cope with the way it affects your life. A psychotherapist can help you find ways to cope. That might mean teaching you strategies, giving you a place to vent, or helping you identify habits that affect your well-being. Finally, therapy can help prevent uncontrolled stress from making your symptoms worse.
5. Give yourself permission to rest
It’s okay if you need to lie down for hours when endometriosis pain strikes. Yes, exercise may sometimes help with menstrual pain, but rest plays an important role as well. Listen to your body and honor its needs. It might help to talk with your loved ones, spouse, children, and employer about how you may need to lie down sometimes and rest.
6. Learn relaxation techniques
Basically, pain can lead to stress, and stress can worsen pain. That’s because stress hormones can have an inflammatory effect. In other words, being stressed out may create a pain cycle that’s hard to disrupt. (That’s another reason why seeing a therapist may be helpful.)
Relaxation techniques include:
- Breathing exercises
A therapist may be able to provide more specific ways to practice relaxation. For some people, relaxation may be as simple as coloring in an adult coloring book. Others may need more structured methods, such as guided meditation apps.
Remember, talking to your doctor should always be the first step when you are dealing with disruptive endo pain. They might also have more tips to help you get back on your feet when endometriosis pain is holding you back.
- Endometriosis Foundation of America, 2018. Cognitive behavioral therapy: effective endometriosis pain relief?
- MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Endometriosis
- MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Living with endometriosis.
- Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Endometriosis.