Which OTC painkillers work best for endometriosis?

In addition to medical or surgical treatment, many women who have been diagnosed with endometriosis end up needing further pain relief. In many cases, healthcare providers will recommend over-the-counter anti-steroidal inflammatory medications, also called NSAIDs.


NSAIDs are designed to bring down inflammation and reduce swelling, as well as help with fever and pain. Medications where the active ingredient is acetaminophen are not NSAIDs. In over the counter NSAIDs, the active ingredient is either ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn).

NSAIDs are most effective when they’re taken before the pain even starts, which can make it difficult to use them most effectively. When it comes to preempting pain, knowing your body’s patterns is key. If you know what your cycle’s pattern looks like, and you know that your pain usually starts on a certain day of your cycle, you may be able to stop some pain from endometriosis symptoms before it starts.

Other non-prescription relief

Another way to treat endometriosis pain is to apply heat. Whether it’s a hot water bottle or a heating pad, warmth can help relax muscles and can sometimes provide significant relief, just like it can for regular menstrual pain. Some women also find comfort through alternative therapies like acupuncture, although you should talk with your provider before you receive acupuncture therapy to make sure it’s safe for you. 

Prescriptions for pain relief

If, even after treatment, endometriosis pain is getting in the way of your day-to-day life, and it isn’t responding to over-the-counter NSAIDs, your healthcare provider may be able to prescribe a safe medication like an opiate (a strong pain reliever) for greater pain relief. 

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Endometriosis.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, April 2 2013. Web.
  • “Endometriosis: Treatment Strategies.” Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. Web.
  • “Over-the-counter pain relievers.” MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine, November 3 2014. Web.
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