Reviewed by

Uwe Porters – Mid-wife/Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert


Lifestyle tips for endometriosis

Reviewed by

Uwe Porters – Mid-wife/Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert

Living with endometriosis is a challenge. And while more research is still needed to learn about this little-known but sometimes all-consuming condition, lifestyle changes can make a big difference. For this article we were able to count on the knowledge and experience of Colette Peeters, osteopath, and of course we drew a lot of information from Het Cyclus Kompas, the book by Morgane Leten, co-founder of Guud.

What exactly is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis (adenomyosis = endometriosis internal) is a chronic condition that grows as a result of hormones and can cause inflammation throughout the body, especially on the peritoneum, in the small pelvis and abdominal cavity. It can also occur on the diaphragm, the lung membranes and in some cases in the sinuses.

Endometriosis involves tissue that initially resembles endometrial cells, but actually has more differences than it appears to have similarities.

The immune response and inflammation that occur in response to endometriosis can cause adhesions, causing organs to fuse together. This can cause a range of issues and lead to reduced fertility. Because the symptoms of endometriosis greatly depend on how much tissue there is and where it is located, the disease is often not quickly recognized.

A few facts about endometriosis:

  • It is estimated that 1 in 9 women have endometriosis.
  • In general, it takes between 7 and 20 (!) years before a diagnosis is made.
  • It can cause a huge range of symptoms: think of hellish abdominal cramps, pain during sex, and pain during bowel movements, excessive blood loss...
  • Endometriosis is often not visible on ultrasounds, scans or in blood values.
  • Although it is not certain exactly how the disease occurs, we know that it is due to a hormonal imbalance and manifests as an inflammatory disease.
  • Anyone can get endometriosis. Teenagers and young adults can also develop endometriosis. Women in menopause can also suffer from old tissue.

How does endometriosis develop?

It used to be thought that the cause was retrograde menstruation. What does that mean exactly? It means that during menstruation, most menstrual blood flows out through the vagina, but some blood from the uterus can also flow into the abdominal cavity through the fallopian tubes; this is called retrograde menstruation.

There have also been many hypotheses added to explain the cause, including estrogen dominance, an incorrect response from the immune system and inflammation. Unfortunately, there is no consensus in the medical community about the true cause for endometriosis.

Can endometriosis be treated?

Unfortunately, there is no treatment yet to cure endometriosis. That is why people mainly try to get their symptoms under control and treat any fertility problems (if there is a desire to have children).

Treatments include painkillers, hormonal therapy (which eases the cycle) or surgery to remove the endometriosis tissue, cysts and adhesions. These are solutions, but it is important to know that, to date, there is no medication that makes endometriosis disappear.

How can you relieve endometriosis?

As we mentioned in the introduction, there are treatments and lifestyle changes that can alleviate the symptoms of endometriosis. Colette Peeters, osteopath with expertise in gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, is very well known in Belgium.

Studies show that osteopathic techniques have positive effects on the quality of life of patients with endometriosis. Colette Peeters has been able to refer and help many women over the years. She does this, among other things, through manual therapies. Examples are internal osteopathic techniques (vaginal or rectal) and external osteopathic techniques to give flexibility to the adherent tissues.

Other ways to find relief is to find ways to support your menstrual cycle. Endometriosis is linked to the female cycle. Supporting your cycle can therefore help keep symptoms under control.

So, what can you do?

An adapted diet

In some cases, endometriosis patients report a big difference with some changes in their diet. What exactly are they doing? Is there such a thing as an endometriosis diet?

  • Go for a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet. Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
  • Consider limiting dairy, red meat, and processed foods, as these can contribute to inflammation.
  • See if a gluten-free or low-FODMAP diet provides relief. There are endometriosis patients who have benefited from this.

Move consciously

If you suffer from symptoms like pelvic pain, cramps and excessive blood loss, it may not seem like a good idea to go for a run or roll out the mat for a yoga session. But exercise can improve symptoms for some women with endometriosis.

  • Do low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming or yoga to promote flexibility and reduce stress.
  • Listen to your body and adjust your movements to your comfort level on days when you feel more discomfort.

Stress Management

Research seems to show a link between stress and endometriosis. There are several theories about the connection between the two. For example, when your body is under stress, it produces a stress hormone (cortisol). Over time, producing too much cortisol can harm your immune system. Stress also increases inflammation in your body, and inflammation plays a major role in endometriosis. More inflammation can ultimately mean more pain.

  • Try to learn how to manage stress: practice deep breathing, meditate, or practice mindfulness.
  • Get enough sleep so you can handle stressful situations better.
  • Put self-care first. Not as an exception, but as a daily activity. Think of a warm bath, aromatherapy or just taking time for things that make you happy.
  • Learn to listen to your body and adjust your activities as necessary.

Vitamins and minerals

There are studies that show that various vitamins and minerals such as omega 3, magnesium and vitamin D can support your body when it comes to endometriosis. Unfortunately, there are no approved health claims for these vitamins and minerals yet.

Additional tips

Find the right healthcare provider. Find a trusted healthcare provider who specializes in endometriosis and understands your problems.

Unfortunately, too little is known about endometriosis to know how it occurs and what you can do preventively. There is also no treatment method that is 100% effective in the long term. But know that you don't have to walk around with pain. Find the right healthcare professionals and pay a lot of attention to a healthy lifestyle to possibly alleviate complaints.

Do you have any questions or doubts? Chat with us, we will help you with love! You are not alone.