Understanding Endometriosis Pain Triggers

Understanding Endometriosis Pain Triggers

Although the cause of endometriosis is unknown, several known triggers can make endometriosis pain worse. By knowing how to explain endometriosis pain, you will have a better idea of how to address it. And learning how to help endometriosis pain will make these symptoms more manageable so you can enjoy a higher quality of life.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a potentially painful condition that involves tissue similar to that which lines the inside of the uterus growing in other parts of the pelvis and abdominal cavity where it shouldn’t. This can lead to scar tissue and lesions on other organs which causes debilitating pain. Researchers estimate that at least 10-15% of women and girls of reproductive age have undiagnosed endometriosis.

What Does Endometriosis Pain Feel Like?

The intensity of pain caused by endometriosis can range from mild to severe, with many people describing it as a sharp, stabbing, twisting, or burning pain. It may be an uncomfortable ache for some, while for others it may feel like their reproductive organs are being crushed. 

It is normal to feel endometriosis pain in the pelvis, lower back, and thighs. Some people may even experience endometrium pain in the anus. To know what helps endometriosis pain, let’s take a look at some factors that explain endometriosis pain.

The Role of Hormonal Imbalance in Endometriosis Pain

The reproductive system is regulated by many reproductive hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and follicle-stimulating hormone. Endometriosis is associated with higher-than-normal production of the hormone estrogen. This hormonal imbalance can encourage further growth of the endometrium-like tissue outside the uterus. If you’re wondering, ‘does endometriosis get worse over time?’, the answer is that yes, it can.

At times of the monthly cycle when estrogen levels are high, this hormone causes endometrial tissue to thicken. This is meant to happen within the uterus, where there is a mechanism to shed this lining each month during your period. But when the endometrium-like tissue outside the uterus is exposed to estrogen, it can cause inflammation and scarring because the tissue has nowhere to go, thus leading to pain. 

Dealing With Endometriosis Pain During Menstruation

Endometriosis pain is strongly correlated with menstruation. The worst flare-ups in pain tend to start a couple of days before menstruation and last throughout the period (when estrogen levels are higher than normal).

When endometrium-like tissue that has grown outside the uterus is exposed to hormones during menstruation, it responds just as the uterine lining would, which is to try to shed. Except when it’s growing in places it’s not meant to, it has nowhere to go, causing inflammation and scarring that can increase endometriosis pain even more than at other times of the month. 

The Impact of Stress on Endometriosis Pain

Many studies have found a link between stress levels and endometriosis, but it’s unclear whether high levels of stress can trigger endometriosis in the first place or whether stress is a result of this painful condition reducing the quality of life. 

Regardless of the answer, we know that chronic stress and lack of sleep can increase levels of cortisol in the blood, which makes inflammation worse. So, it follows that reducing stress levels may help control the symptoms of endometriosis. Try engaging in activities that relax your body and your mind, such as taking a warm bath, getting a massage, doing regular breathwork, and practicing yoga. 

Physical Activity and Endometriosis Pain

Physical exercise may play a role in helping with endometriosis pain. This may seem counterintuitive since the cramps, fatigue, and pelvic pain that result from endometriosis can be so debilitating that you feel like you can’t do anything, let alone exercise. The key is learning how to stay active without making endometriosis pain worse.

Engaging in physical activity releases endorphins, which are known to boost mood and provide natural pain relief. One study of 20 endometriosis patients found a significant decrease in their pain intensity after an 8-week exercise program. More research is needed on the link between endometriosis and exercise, but other ways it may help reduce symptoms is by strengthening the pelvic floor, stimulating intestinal contractions which promote bowel movements, and improving energy levels and sleep quality

If you don’t already have an exercise routine, start slowly with gentle workout that have low or only moderate impact. This includes activities like swimming, cycling, and fast walking. Yoga is a great way to incorporate breathing exercises and mindfulness into physical activity and can also help with relaxation for better sleep.

Diet and Endometriosis Pain: What to Eat and What to Avoid

Food plays a key role in regulating inflammation and estrogen levels, which directly influence endometriosis pain. Endometriosis pain is caused by inflammation of tissue, which can be made worse by consuming pro-inflammatory foods like red meat, sugary drinks, processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine. Eating a healthy diet high in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits can help manage the symptoms of endometriosis. 

Consume foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation. Foods that are high in this good fat include nuts and seeds, plant oils, and fish. Eating foods high in fibre and low in sodium and processed sugar can help maintain healthy bowel movements. Excess estrogen is removed from the body in feces, so increasing your fibre intake can help you have regular bowel movements and get some estrogen out of your body.

Now that you know how to help endometriosis pain, you can make informed decisions about lifestyle choices and potential treatments to help manage this challenging condition. Plus, these tips can also help with conditions similar to endometriosis, like adenomyosis. 

Editor: Lanna Last & Thomas Sauls

Scientifically Reviewed By: Mali Meibod


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