While finding ways to manage endometriosis can certainly be a challenge, there are steps you can take to help prevent the condition from becoming a nightmare that consumes your life. I first began learning more about endometriosis, which affects millions of women and occurs when endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, last year when a friend was diagnosed. Do you suffer from it, too? These seven smart ways to manage endometriosis have helped my friend a great deal, and just might help others, too. That said, every individual case is unique, and what helps one person might not be appropriate for another, so be sure to always consult a doctor before making any changes to your diet, lifestyle or medications.
1. Establish a Birth Control Regimen
Since symptoms tend to increase during or close to your period, one of the best ways to manage endometriosis is to establish a birth control regimen that works for you. Your doctor may even direct you to stay on birth control continuously or for longer lengths of time, skipping regular monthly periods, so work with him or her to develop the right plan. My friend’s doctor recently told her that non-oral options like the NuvaRing or Depo-Provera shots are often preferable, since they won’t directly affect your digestive system, which endometriosis can upset. Depending upon the specifics of your condition, other types of hormone treatments might also be considered, along with surgical options.
2. Limit Trigger Foods
Since certain foods are known to exacerbate endometriosis symptoms, limiting or avoiding them can often help. While my friend hasn’t completely cut out all forms of the common triggers dairy and gluten, she has definitely found relief by no longer consuming bread, pasta, red meat or milk. Of course, there are a number of other foods that can also increase symptoms, including soy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol, so be sure to talk with your doctor for more comprehensive information about these and others that may affect you. Your doctor can also best advise you about how to replace any nutrients you might be missing by eliminating certain foods.
3. Eat Healthily
Just as there are certain foods you may want to limit or avoid, there are also many others that might actually help minimize your symptoms. Increasing your intake of fibrous fruits, vegetables, beans, gluten-free whole grains, seeds and nuts has been known to help, along with consuming fish rich in Omega-3, such as trout and salmon. My friend’s doctor also advised her to start taking a daily multivitamin with fish oil.
4. Stay Hydrated
In addition to avoiding trigger foods and eating healthily, my friend’s doctor also advised her to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. To this day, it’s by far one of her simplest and most effective solutions for easing digestion, minimizing cramps and feeling healthy. Worried about impurities and hormones in your tap water? Stick with filtered or bottled water instead.
5. Exercise Regularly
Just as it’s known to help minimize period cramps, exercise is also a great way to reduce endometriosis pain. Taking a yoga class or going for a jog are great ideas, as is simply heading outside for a walk. Along with easing your symptoms, a workout routine can also help improve your overall health.
6. Seek Comfort
When you’re suffering from pain and cramping, using a heating pad or taking a warm bath can sometimes help. While opinions about effective treatment methods vary, some women also report getting relief from remedies like massage and acupuncture. Or course, there may be times when nothing you do seems to help, and in those instances, my friend suggests relying on positive distractions, like your favorite music playlists or movies.
7. Get Support
Aside from the physical toll, managing endometriosis can also be very emotionally trying. In addition to seeking the support of close family members and friends, you may also want to consider joining a local or online support group that allows you to connect with others who are experiencing the same thing. As difficult as managing endometriosis can be, it helps to know that you are certainly not alone.
Overall, the more you know about endometriosis, the more in control you’ll be. Your doctor is of course a great resource, along with well-known online sources like WebMD and WomensHealth.gov. As I mentioned earlier, just remember that what works for someone else might not work or even be safe for you, so be sure to verify the effectiveness of any suggested tips, including all of those mentioned here, with a health care professional. What other smart ways to manage endometriosis would you like to share?