Surgery and hormonal medical treatments are both options that sound pretty drastic, but they’re the most common treatments for endometriosis, and they’re generally agreed to be the most effective, too. Still, many women wonder whether there are things they can do on their own to fight against endometriosis, either instead of, or right alongside more conventional medical treatments.
While most of what are often called “complementary treatments” haven’t been scientifically confirmed to be effective treatments, many women diagnosed with endometriosis find that using these techniques alongside a healthcare provider’s treatment recommendations can help them feel healthier than medical or surgical treatments alone. More than that, taking more of an active role in their own treatment can help endometriosis patients feel more in control of their own bodies and lives.
Dietary changes and exercise
Diet is often a healthy place to start in treating new health problems, because even in cases where dietary changes can’t address symptoms directly, being healthier and physically stronger can make facing those symptoms easier. In this case, there is some evidence that moderate, regular exercise to limit the estrogen in the body could have a positive effect on endometriosis symptoms.
Aside from regular exercise and lower body fat, foods that are thought to promote lower estrogen levels include whole grains, leafy greens like spinach and bok choy, and other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussel sprouts, as well as limiting dairy products and alcohol consumption. Flax seeds in the diet are also thought to limit the effects of excess estrogen.
A TENS unit, or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation unit, is a device that uses electrical currents to stimulate nerves in a way that affects pain receptors. Though the concept of the TENS unit may not sound like a natural remedy, it is a non-surgical way of handling endometriosis pain that also isn’t pharmaceutical or surgical, and a few small studies have confirmed its usefulness in many cases treating severe menstrual pain generally, and as a supplemental treatment along with hormonal medications when treating endometriosis.
The cost of TENS units is often covered by insurance, but they can also be purchased without a prescription, and many endometriosis patients have reported some success using TENS units to treat pain.
There is no scientific evidence that herbal treatments of endometriosis are an effective treatment method, but since most herbal treatments suggested for endometriosis are centered around anti-inflammatory properties, they’re probably not going to hurt in any case, from a general health standpoint. Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting to take an herbal supplement, and check in about any possible interactions with any herbal supplements you’re taking before starting any new medications.
The herbal supplements recommended most often to treat endometriosis are evening primrose oil and turmeric, or herbs from traditional Chinese medicine like corydalis, dong quai, and perilla. Herbs from traditional Chinese medicine are often taken alongside acupuncture.
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