Do you suffer from endometriosis pain? While there are multiple ways to manage it medically, typically involving anti-inflammatory and pain medications or taking hormonal birth control pills, many women prefer to leave hormones and chemicals out of the equation whenever possible.
Additional Note: Fertility is another reason to find natural remedies for endometriosis. The condition is one of the leading causes of infertility in the United States. So, birth controls might work wonders when you’re not wanting to get pregnant, but you’ll have to go off them to get pregnant – at which point endometriosis might pose fertility challenges for you.
Natural Remedies for Endometriosis Pain
From the external perspective, many women find relief from endometriosis discomfort by using a heating pad or a hot water bottle, laid across the pelvic/abdomen. They are affordable and can be plugged in at all of your most common resting places – chair, couch, bed, work chair, etc. The bum heaters in many cars can also help with lower back discomfort.
The reality, however, is that most of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with endometriosis (bloating, cramping, pelvic/abdominal/lower back pain, etc.) is a direct result of inflammation. By minimizing inflammation, you’ll also notice a diminishment of the pain and discomfort associated with endometriosis.
5 Steps to Reducing Inflammation in Your Body
Here are five simple but effective steps to take to reduce overall inflammation, which also relives endometriosis pain.
1. Boost your diet with anti-inflammatory foods
There are so many nutritious and delicious foods that fight inflammation naturally. You’ll want to emphasize these. For the most part, we recommend all patients adhere to an anti inflammatory diet, but that is especially true for women who have inflammatory-related conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS, auto-immune issues, etc.
- Foods that minimize inflammation include:
- Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies)
- Leafy greens
- Cruciferous veggies (cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, chard…)
- Extra-virgin olive oil (in lieu of butter, margarine, or vegetable oil)
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate (70% or higher) and cacao (hooray!)
- Turmeric (a common spice in Indian and middle eastern foods, also available in tea form and at many coffee house drinks these days)
Click Here to explore a 30-Day Mediterranean Meal Plan that corresponds with your daily activity level and taste preferences.
2. Add foods with isoflavones and phytoestrogens (natural estrogen regulators) to your diet
Studies have shown that dysregulated (out of balance) estrogen levels are linked to endometriosis. This is the reason why hormonal birth control often works – it keeps estrogen levels more consistently balanced. However, there are also foods that contain higher levels of isoflavones and phytoestrogens, and consuming them support natural estrogen levels.
- Soy beans
- Fava beans
3. Try to eliminate or minimize inflammatory foods/ingredients
There are also foods that exacerbate or cause inflammation. The less you consume them, the more relief you’ll find from endometriosis pain. Examples of inflammatory ingredients include:
- Processed sugars
- Junk foods (chips, snack mixes, pretzels, convenience meals, etc)
- Refined carbs (white bread, flour tortillas, white rice, etc., opt for whole-wheat or whole-grain options instead)
- Sugar-sweetened beverages (sodas, sports/energy drinks, sweet tea)
- Fatty foods
- Salty foods (salt in moderation is just fine)
- Trans- or hydrogenated fats (listed as ingredient in many junk foods)
Most dieticians would say to strike an 80/20 balance between anti-inflammatory/inflammatory foods. However, if you’re reading this article, try to go 100% anti-inflammatory for at least a month or two if you can and then start slowly adding other “cheater foods” into your diet and see how you feel. You might need something more like a 90/10 or 85/15 balance to keep discomfort under control.
4. Exercise every day
Being overweight is often linked to inflammation, so exercise certainly helps on that end. However, there is more to exercise than weight and body image. Getting at least 30-minutes of exercise per day (or at least five days per week) supports a healthy body biochemistry. When you exercise, you get rid of cortisol and other toxins (stress hormones and toxins feed inflammation) and release “feel good” hormones that also act as mood boosters and pain relievers.
5. Establish healthy sleep habits
Lack of sleep has a dramatic effect on inflammation and the shutting down of healthy immune system response. When you don’t sleep well or consistently each night, there is a cascade effect that impacts everything from your metabolism (can make you crave inflammatory foods), fatigue/lack of focus (can also make you crave inflammatory foods/drinks), and lack of sleep also messes with your natural hormone balance, including reproductive hormones, which can make your endometriosis worse than it would be otherwise.
Is sleep a challenge for you? Read, sleepfoundation.org’s post, How to Sleep Better, and put their tips into practice.
Endometriosis Fertility Support
Do you feel endometriosis is compromising your fertility goals? Schedule a consultation with us here at the Reproductive Resource Center. In addition to fertility testing, we will help you establish lifestyle changes that reduce endometriosis pain naturally and increase your chances of getting pregnant.