The Best Ways I Support Someone With Endometriosis
As the partner of someone with endometriosis, I am in a position to help them improve their condition, and take control of their symptoms. There’s not much I can do about the condition, but there are definitely things I can do to make managing it easier. Here’s some of the simplest, but most effective ways, that I support my partner in managing her endometriosis.
All of the following ideas will be written from my perspective, the perspective of someone living with and in a relationship with someone with endometriosis. This is someone that I live with, eat with, do everything with. So, because of that, some of these ideas will apply to you, and some of them won’t, and some will be easier to initiate than others. Be creative and adaptable, take inspiration from this list, but listen to your loved one about what would really help them.
Diet & nutrition
Firstly, food. I guess the jury is still out as to whether diet can affect endometriosis symptoms and the symptoms of other chronic conditions, but from what I have observed with my partner, there is no doubt in my mind that this is true. We see a direct correlation between the foods she eats, and the amount of pain, length of flare-ups, and severity of other symptoms, like fatigue or brain fog.
Through patience, trial and error, we have established what her trigger foods are, and what foods are safe for her to eat. This is a work in progress that I think we’re both proud of, but it means the foods that we eat are much more limited. Are there delicious and varied meals that can be cooked with this limited list of ingredients? Absolutely. But, do I miss eating real fresh pasta with a thick and creamy sauce? You bet I do. As a partner of someone with endo I can support them by being willing to adapt my own diet to fit their needs. Cooking one meal is much easier, more sociable, and more fun than cooking separately, especially when she can be so worn out from the endo. So, making this small change in my own diet goes a long way to improving the endo symptoms of my loved one, and supporting her in making positive changes to her condition.
Exercise & wellness
Now we’ve all been made pretty aware of the positive effects of exercise. It may improve mood, sleeping patterns, fatigue, and pain levels – all of which are aspects of our health that are affected by endometriosis. Learning about it however is the easy part – it is actually doing the stuff that seems so hard. That’s where we can offer our support. Take part in exercise with your partner, whether that’s going to the gym, a cycle, or a gentle walk - there’s a reason people have gym partners. The level of accountability that having an exercise partner instils may improve effort and consistency – we perform better when people are watching - and we’re tempted to skip that harder exercise if we’re alone. I spend a lot of my time with my partner, and I am therefore crucial in embedding new habits. Alone, getting out of bed to go for a run or walk is hard; with someone putting the kettle on and gently coaxing you awake, it’s a lot easier.
Regular, consistent sleep habits have made the world of difference to my partner. Having a regular bed time helps with getting to sleep, and combats the fatigue that can cloud the next day. Supporting my partner with this is simple, but effective. I must be prepared to be flexible with other commitments to make sure that our bed time can be consistent. Sure, this sometimes means I have to cut my plans short, but similarly, my partner is flexible if there’s things I need to do. All of these ideas are supposed to be flexible and adaptable.
Small changes to my own life can have a big impact of the life of someone I love, so to me, it’s a no brainer. Learn what makes your partner or friend or loved one’s endometriosis more bearable, and think about how you can fit that in to your life. The more support from the people around the someone with endometriosis has, the easier it is to manage their symptoms, and the less isolating the condition will feel.
Do you know what your endometriosis phenotype is?