During the month of March, we’re taking time to focus on Endometriosis Awareness Month and honor the millions of women and girls who suffer from endometriosis, an often misunderstood and painful disorder.
Endometriosis is caused when tissue found inside the uterus grows outside of it, usually on other reproductive organs and sometimes the bladder and bowel. Living with endometriosis can make everyday life difficult, and complicate major life decisions, including having children. Many women living with this condition suffer daily with constant pain.
We’re here to tell you you don’t have to suffer if you are living with endometriosis. And if you have not been diagnosed and may suspect that you have endometriosis, please give us a call. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Painful periods
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain during bowel movements or urination
- Excessive bleeding
- Other signs and symptoms: fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating/nausea
Living with endometriosis can be exhausting. It can take some trial and error, experimenting, and a mix of strategies before you find what works best for you. While there is no cure for endometriosis, there are steps you can take to improve your quality of life and lessen the pain. We’ve outlined ten steps you can take to ease your symptoms.
- Heat Therapy. Try using two heating pads: one for your lower back and one for your stomach. This easy remedy can relax pelvic muscles and reduce cramping. We recommend using them in 20-minute intervals. You can also try soaking in a hot bath to immerse your entire body at once. If you’re on the go, stock-up on heat wraps that last for eight hours.
- Tweak Your Diet. Research suggests a link between diets that are low in fruit and vegetables and high in red meat will increase your risk of endometriosis. The high-fat content of red meat encourages the production of more estrogen that can cause excess endometrial tissue growth.
- Decrease Inflammation. Omega-3 fats have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the risk of endometriosis. Studies suggest that women who consume more omega-3 fatty acids are 22% less likely to develop endometriosis. Types of foods to look for are seafood, dark green veggies, bright red fruits, and whole foods.
- Increase Blood Circulation. Probably the last thing you want to do when you’re in pain is exercise. However, exercise can reduce your symptoms in many ways. By increasing blood circulation to your organs you’ll increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients. In addition, physical activity decreases estrogen production, reduces stress and releases endorphins which are pain-relieving.
- Promote Relaxation. Living with the pain caused by endometriosis can contribute to high levels of stress. Experiment with different relaxation techniques that can help you when you start to feel overwhelmed. Learn meditation to clear your mind. Or enroll in yoga or tai chi class to gently stretch your muscle and calm your thoughts.
- Remember Your Vitamin. Deficiencies in vitamin D, A, C, and beta-carotene could play a role in endometriosis. If you have a hard time remembering to take your vitamins, try keeping them in a location that you’re sure to see them every day (i.e. coffee pot, bedside table).
- Book A Massage. A gentle massage may help resolve pelvic pain by releasing tension and allowing better blood flow. It can be a great way to soothe sore muscles and help you relax.
- Get Connected. Connecting with other women who are living with endometriosis can be empowering. There is an entire community of women who have endometriosis on Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter. Another option is to download the mobile app Flo to track your symptoms and chat anonymously with others. Also, ask your doctor about local in-person support groups.
- Dietary Supplements. There are dietary supplements that can address specific symptoms such as gastrointestinal, immunity, and muscular. It’s important to talk to your doctor before you take any dietary supplements as some can have negative interactions with prescription drugs. Make sure to bring all your medications and supplements to your next appointment.
- Treatment Options. We can provide you with a list of treatment options and help you weigh the risk and benefits of each one. Be sure to tell us all the treatments you’ve had in the past and if/when you would like to become pregnant. Options range from over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to hormone therapy. If none of the above are helping to manage your endometriosis symptoms, surgery may be something to discuss at your next appointment.
While living with endometriosis can challenge you, both physically and emotionally, don’t let it define you. The staff at Triangle Physicians for Women are here to help.
If you have questions, give us a call at (919) 678-6900 to book an appointment at one of our offices in Cary or Holly Springs.