There is no clinical proof that lifestyle changes can relieve symptoms of endometriosis. Many people report a personal response, but there are no studies to prove that any of these techniques make a difference. Still, since some treatments for endometriosis can be, or seem, so invasive, many women choose to try to manage their symptoms on their own, either instead of, before, or right alongside treatment.
Healthy mind, healthy body
No matter what condition you’re diagnosed with, it stands to reason that you’ll feel better if you’re as healthy in every other way as possible. A body that’s strong and healthy from eating a balanced, nourishing diet and getting regular exercise is more able to fight off anything that comes its way. Making lifestyle changes when you’re not feeling well can be difficult, but many women find that by raising their general levels of health, they’re able to lessen the impact that endometriosis has on their lives.
Regular exercise is also an important tool for lowering estrogen levels in the body. Since raised estrogen levels are thought to speed up the spread of endometriosis, keeping estrogen levels lower can help to keep endometriosis symptoms from getting worse. Foods that help to lower estrogen levels include whole grains and crucifers like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
In addition, some believe it’s possible to lessen endometriosis pain by choosing a diet designed to level out or limit the prostaglandins produced in the body. “Prostaglandin” is a term for any one of several compounds produced in the body that have hormone-like effects.
Prostaglandins send signals that create uterine contractions, and can cause pain, and because endometriosis involve cells that are outside the uterus as well as in, the effects of prostaglandins are magnified. Foods that are thought to reduce or stabilize prostaglandin production include pomegranates and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, avocados, eggs, and seeds and nuts.
Relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga aren’t going to cure endometriosis, but some women find they make it easier to live with. In fact, tensing muscles can make sensations feel more painful, so relaxation techniques as a way to literally relax muscles during an attack of endometriosis symptoms may make them feel easier to manage. Some women find that acupuncture helps reduce endometriosis-related pain or discomfort, but if you’re considering this therapy, talk to your provider to make sure it’s safe for you before you start.
For many women living with endometriosis, one of the defining symptoms is menstrual pain that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter pain killers. Others, though, find some relief from cramps and other endometriosis symptoms in the same over-the-counter medications used for regular menstrual symptoms. Over the counter medications a healthcare provider might recommend include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve, others).
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