The Heating Pad: A Must-Have in One's Endo Arsenal
Last updated: March 2020
Before I knew I had endo, as a 12 year-old curled into fetal position- sent home yet again from school- a hot water bottle was my savior.
My earliest endo symptoms
My grandmother would put the tea kettle on the stove top, and once it whistled, she would pour the scalding hot water it held into the rubber bottle (the same color as the blood that was pouring out of me), before twisting its top on tight and bringing it to me in my bed. She often put it in a pillowcase so I would not scald my hands or belly, but I was so desperate for relief from my killer cramps, I sometimes put it straight on my stomach with no cloth barrier, so that it singed my skin and left burn marks in its wake. The heat was even more effective than the large ibuprofen I gulped down.
I'm still using heat for endo pain
All these years later, and a heating pad is still my go-to most of the year for when I have my period. I do not use electric/plug-in heating pads, as they are often sheathed in plastic underneath their cloth covers, and heated plastic can leach chemicals that can actually potentially exacerbate endo. Instead, I have a few heating pads made of organic cotton that contain within them either corn or flaxseed and that I can microwave. In the mornings, when my cramps tend to be at their absolute worse, these heating pads are crucial to taming my pain. I also find that during my period I will take two showers a day rather than just one--one in the morning in addition to my routine evening shower before bed. This is in part because the hot water helps the pain, in addition to washing the blood away and making me feel cleaner.
When I am on-the-go, I sometimes use the disposable heating pads that adhere to your underwear and fit snug against your belly but are thin enough to escape notice because they aren't bulky under clothing. I try to minimize my use of these because I don't want to create too much waste, but occasionally break down and use them when I need to be somewhere and have to have a little something extra to keep my cramps under control (I am currently looking into finding an ulra-thin reusable alternative). Luckily, I work mostly from home, so usually do not need to be out and about and have the privilege of being able to stay home when I am in pain.
I often dread and abhor the summer, because it's often too hot to use heating pads to help my pain and the humidity in general can make my pain and disorientation worse during my period. But other than those couple of months a year, heat is something I can use all the time for pain management and control. It's cheap, hormone-free, and has few side effects or risks.
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