Endometriosis is an often painful condition/disorder that affects women. It occurs when the tissue similar to the tissue that usually lines the inside of your uterus (the endometrium) grows outside your uterus, causing pain and/or infertility.
This condition takes place like normal menstruation. The surrounding areas may become inflamed or swollen, and you might have scar tissue and lesions. Endometriosis affects roughly 10% (190 million) of reproductive-age women and girls globally.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
The symptoms vary as some people experience minimal, mild, moderate and severe symptoms. The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, often associated with menstrual periods. Although many women experience cramping during their menstrual periods, those with endometriosis typically describe menstrual pain as far worse than usual.
It is important to note that you may not experience any symptoms. The most common signs include:
- Lower back pain and pelvic pain during your period
- Severe menstrual cramps and heavy menstrual bleeding
- Pain when pooping or peeing, especially during your period
- Unusual or heavy bleeding during periods
- Blood in your stool or urine
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Painful sex
- Fatigue that won’t go away
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Nausea and vomiting
- Periods lasting longer than 7 days
A 2013 report notes that it can take an average of 6.7 years to get an accurate diagnosis. During this time, people lose an average of 10.8 hours of work a week due to the impact of the condition. The debilitating pain that comes with endometriosis creates pressure in a woman’s life relating to:
- the cost of medical care
- difficulty maintaining a social life
- concerns about not being able to become pregnant
- stress, anxiety, and depression
Endometriosis is often mistaken for other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. It may be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes bouts of diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal cramping.
How to Manage Endometriosis Naturally
There’s no cure for endometriosis, and its treatments usually include surgery or medication. You might need to try different treatments to find what helps you feel better. There are complementary treatments and lifestyle choices which may help you manage its symptoms. They are:
The insertion of acupuncture needles works to restore mental and physical wellness by stimulating pressure points within the body. It also increases our pain threshold and releases endorphins (our natural pain reducer) in our body.
Using a hot water bottle, heating pad, warm bath, rice sock, or hot towel can help relax the pelvic muscles and effectively reduce cramping. Placing hot bags on your lower abdomen helps to loosen muscles to make the cramping pain less intense.
You can try avoiding foods that cause inflammation such as dairy, processed foods with refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, etc. You should change your diet to foods with anti-inflammatory properties like:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Chia seeds
Stress can increase inflammation in the body and make endometriosis symptoms worse. To effectively manage stress, it is advisable to exercise regularly and perform yoga, and meditation. Consider connecting with a therapist to learn other stress management skills.
Endometriosis doesn’t only affect the physical body but the mental state of a woman. It has an emotional impact on those living with the condition. It is advisable to seek emotional support and counselling from a therapist. Reach out to your partner, friends or family for their support when you feel upset.
Other diseases may be mistaken for endometriosis so it’s better to consult a doctor to understand your diagnosis and manage your symptoms. If you’re interested in trying an alternative therapy, talk to your doctor first, especially if you’re considering taking over-the-counter supplements. They could have side effects that you don’t know about.