Easy Ways to Manage Endometriosis
More than 6 million women in the United States experience endometriosis–nearly 11% of the population. If you are experiencing endometriosis, here we will cover easy ways to manage endometriosis.
This condition occurs when tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus (endometrium) grows on the outside of it, mainly in the pelvis, ovaries, and abdomen. During monthly hormonal changes, this tissue becomes inflamed, leading to pain and infertility due to the tissue itself or the body’s reaction to inflammation by causing scarring around the reproductive organs, intestines, and other structures within the pelvis.
While pelvic pain is the most common symptom, others include lower back pain, fatigue, intestinal cramping, heavy bleeding with periods, and spotting between or shortly before periods. Pain can occur before, during, and after periods, as well as during or after intercourse.
Endometriosis pain management can be done through a wide variety of options. Some of the most common endometriosis management methods are:
- Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may reduce the inflammation and pain accompanying endometriosis.
- Birth control pills, patches, or rings, may shrink endometriosis tissue, thus providing pain relief.
- Leuprolide acetate injections can stop estrogen production by the ovaries, thus shrinking endometriosis. Often in these instances, a small dose of estrogen is given as ‘add-back’ to prevent the adverse side effects caused by lack of estrogen.
However, women who are trying to conceive are unable to continue some of these practices. While staying hydrated, eating anti-inflammatory foods, or using a heating pad can help reduce pain and symptoms, there are many other practices to adopt to help.
At-Home Endometriosis Pain Management Options
Acupuncture (the practice of inserting thin needles into the body to stimulate the central nervous system) has long been used in hopes of promoting physical and emotional well-being. A recent study found that it can also help manage endometriosis-related pain when the needles are applied to specific areas of the body to relieve chronic pain.
On top of this, acupuncture may modulate ovarian blood flow, may increase uterine blood flow, may inhibit uterine irritability, may reduce anxiety, and may modulate immune function. This, in turn, can help to increase the chance of a positive IVF outcome.
Vitamins and Supplements
A recent trial found that a combination of Vitamin C and Vitamin E significantly reduced painful periods, pain with intercourse, and overall pelvic pain for women with endometriosis. Authors believe these two vitamins may be working together to reduce some of the inflammation and oxidative damage induced by endometriosis, thereby reducing symptoms. More studies will need to be done to further explore the relationship between antioxidants and endometriosis symptoms. However, this provides a safe option for patients with endometriosis who are trying to conceive.
Yoga and Stretching
Light exercise, such as walking or stretching, can tremendously help endometriosis pain management. A small study from 2018 found that women who practiced yoga twice a week regularly over the course of eight weeks saw reduced chronic pelvic pain. Gentle, restorative poses will help to soften and relax the muscles around your pelvis, thus reducing pain.
Endometriosis and Infertility Treatment Options
Treatment decisions are more complex for those with endometriosis who are having difficulty becoming pregnant. In mild cases, coordination of intercourse with ovulation may be all that is necessary. In some cases, laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis may also facilitate pregnancy, although recurrence of endometriosis usually occurs within a year of surgery. More advanced fertility treatments are often needed for moderate and severe endometriosis, including in vitro fertilization (IVF).
At Fertility Centers of New England, our compassionate team of physicians will work with you to determine what path will work best for you and your family. If you have more questions on easy ways to manage endometriosis or your fertility, please contact us to set up your consultation.