Coping With Chronic Endometriosis Pain

When it comes to endometriosis, the numbers are eye-opening — 10% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 around the world have endometriosis, which totals a whopping 176 million women. Because of the magnitude of the problem, researchers are hard at work trying to find ways to help women cope with this often painful condition, and they’ve uncovered some promising tactics.

Here at our Portland, Oregon, practice, Dr. Amy Bruner handles gynecological issues of all kinds, helping women successfully navigate every stage of their reproductive lives. For our patients who are dealing with chronic endometriosis, we’ve pulled together the following tips to help take the teeth out of this painful problem.

Here’s a quick look at what endometriosis is and how you can better cope with this chronic condition.

Endometriosis 101

Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining of your uterus grows outside the organ, often draping itself over your nearby organs, such as your ovaries, your bladder, on the outside of your uterus, and on the peritoneal tissue. 

The problem is that this tissue acts as it would inside your uterus, thickening each month to prepare for a fertilized egg. But when it comes time to shed out (which is what creates your period), this tissue has nowhere to go and, instead, creates adhesions, or scar tissue, around your pelvic organs.

This inflamed tissue can lead to considerable pain, especially during your periods, as well as fertility issues.

Fighting back against endo

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for endometriosis ... yet, but there are ways to better manage the condition. A significant amount of research has gone into the problem, and here are a few interesting links that researchers have unearthed:

Dietary influences

If you eat a lot of red meat, you may want to cut back and turn to fruits and vegetables instead. A diet that’s high in red meat increases your risk of endometriosis by 80-100% while a diet full of fruits and vegetables decreases your risk by up to 40%. The reason for this is that red meat may spur your production of estrogen hormones.

Also try to add more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet through foods like salmon and nuts, which can reduce your risk of endo by up to 22%.

Work it out

A regular exercise routine gets your blood flowing and drops your estrogen levels. Exercise also boosts your endorphins, which help you feel less pain. 

Cut back on the booze

Alcohol consumption can increase your estrogen levels, so try cutting back. An occasional glass of wine is fine, but any more than that can increase your risk of a painful episode with endo.

Manage stress

When it comes to any medical condition, stress tends to only make the problem worse. If you try relaxation techniques to keep your stress levels low, you’ll feel more relaxed and your endometriosis will have less control over your overall health and well-being.

Keeping warm

If you’re in the throes of a painful bout of endometriosis, a warm bath or heating pad around your lower abdomen can help relieve the pain.

Seeking treatment

Outside of the lifestyle tips above, we encourage you to come see us so that we can devise a treatment plan that keeps endometriosis from overshadowing your life. There’s much we can do through hormonal therapies to control the growth of your endometrial tissue, often slowing it down and preventing new growth. These therapies successfully help our patients find relief from the pain.

If you want to take more aggressive steps, we can discuss surgery to remove the adhesions or a hysterectomy to remove your uterus entirely.

If you have more questions about coping with endometriosis, please give us a call or use the online scheduler to set up an appointment.

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