Home Remedies

In some cases, traditional treatment options may not be managing endometriosis symptoms as well as an individual had hoped. In other cases, treatment may be helping to manage symptoms well, however, an individual may feel like lifestyle changes or other at-home adjustments may make them feel even better. In these cases, the use of home remedies may be pursued to relieve symptoms and to help feel like your best self. Below are some common lifestyle changes and home remedies a woman with endometriosis may consider trying and how they might impact her endometriosis. However, it’s important to note that these home remedies are not intended to be a replacement for traditional treatment options. These are meant to be utilized in addition to your prescribed endometriosis therapy. Before trying any home remedy or making large lifestyle changes, it is important to consult your healthcare provider.

Heat for relief from cramps

Heat therapy may help provide relief from cramping or pain, and can take on various forms. Moist heat can come in the form of warm baths, warm wet towels, or moist heating packs. Dry heat can come from electric heating pads or dry heating packs. Moist heat often penetrates the skin and muscles faster than dry heat, making it potentially more advantageous than dry heat over shorter periods of time. Heating products have previously been used exclusively at home, however, discrete and easy to carry heat packs to take on the go have emerged in recent years. Using heat therapy is a personal process, as each woman experiencing pain relief with heat may do so in different ways. For example, one woman may respond well to warm baths, while another may only respond to electric heating pads. It’s also possible for some women to not experience any pain relief from heat at all.1,2

The exact mechanism by which heat might reduce endometriosis-related pain and cramping is not known. Heat has several potential pain-reducing properties such as increasing circulation, opening up blood vessels, healing damaged tissue, relaxing muscles, affecting pain receptors in the body, and more. Additionally, heat can sometimes lead to stress relief. This reduction in stress may also contribute to pain relief.1,2

Exercise

There is limited information currently available on the relationship between endometriosis and exercise, however, some individuals report that exercise helps reduce symptoms of endometriosis, such as chronic pelvic pain. Exercising in general also provides other health benefits that could impact a woman’s endometriosis, as well as improve her overall health, including reducing the risk of developing comorbid conditions such as diabetes and some cardiovascular conditions, among others.3 Exercising can take on many forms, from rigorous to mild. Finding the most appropriate exercise routine for you is a personal journey, and can be very different from those around you. Although it may be difficult to get motivated to exercise when dealing with endometriosis-related symptoms and pain, there are many health benefits that can accompany even light activity.

Exercise affects our body in a variety of ways when we’re performing it, and even after we’re done. Exercise improves circulation, increases energy levels, decreases stress, and causes the body to release endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that make us feel “good” and reduce pain. Also, regular exercise reduces levels of estrogen in the body, a hormone connected to the production, thickening, and breakdown of endometriosis lesions. All of these characteristics of exercise may contribute to its ability to potentially reduce endometriosis-related symptoms.4,5

Diet changes

Presently, there is no scientific consensus on the impact of diet on endometriosis development and progression.6-9 Ultimately, diet changes are personal decisions based on the way an individual is feeling and how they feel their endometriosis responds to different foods or drinks. As you are figuring out what, if any, diet changes provide you with relief, make sure to check in with your healthcare provider to ensure that you’re getting the proper vitamins and nutrients that you need, and that you’re eating a diet suitable for your overall wellbeing. Although no definitive information currently exists, below are some common categories of food and drinks and the ways that they could potentially interact with endometriosis.

  • Alcohol: Alcohol can raise levels of estrogen in the body and prevent the liver from effectively filtering out toxins when consumed in excess. Endometriosis lesion production, thickening, and breakdown are fueled by estrogen. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to inflammation, another key component in the development of endometriosis. Despite these potentially endometriosis-aggravating effects, alcohol, in moderation, such as one drink per day, has been suggested to have little to no effect on endometriosis.10
  • Caffeine: Caffeine may increase levels of inflammation and affect estrogen levels in the body, both of which could impact a woman’s endometriosis. However, current research has suggested that there is no relationship between caffeine consumption and the development or progression of endometriosis.11
  • Dietary fats: Certain kinds of dietary fats, such as trans fats and palmitic acid, have been linked to an increased risk of developing endometriosis. However, not all fats have a negative effect on endometriosis. Some saturated fats, such as monounsaturated fatty acids (like olive oil), have not been shown to have any effect on endometriosis thus far, and omega 3 fatty acids (often found in fish) have been thought to potentially decrease a woman’s risk of developing endometriosis.12
  • Dairy: Although dairy products may have saturated fats and can affect estrogen levels, current research thus far has not indicated that dairy products affect the risk of developing endometriosis or promoting endometriosis-related symptoms.13
  • Gluten: Gluten consumption may play a role in the development or worsening of some autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, however, more research is needed to learn more about gluten and its health effects, including its potential impact on endometriosis. Several studies in recent years have indicated that eliminating gluten from the diet may decrease endometriosis-related symptoms, such as pelvic pain.14
Written by: Casey Hribar | Last reviewed: June 2018
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