Coping With Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a chronic ailment, which will become increasingly troublesome if it is not dealt with head on. For most women who suffer from endometriosis, it is a life-long battle. Some good coping tips will only help you win the battle against endometriosis, but will also make your life easier.
Changes to Your Life
To help improve your quality of life, it is important for you to make little changes in your diet, exercise regime or activities to make the physical or emotional pain associated with endometriosis more bearable. Some things you can try changing include:
- Nutrition and Diet: A nutritious and balanced diet are always advantageous for healthy living, however, when you are dealing with endometriosis, you may need to be extra careful about your eating habits. Certain food choices may be better than others and an endometriosis diet is often recommended.
During the days approaching your periods, it is best to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, red meat, and fatty fried foods from your diet. Foods like salmon or herring, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, might be a good option during these days to lessen period pain.
Some researchers have also found that animal fats, such as those found in fish, meat, chicken and eggs, contain a high level of chemical residue, called dioxins. These may increase the severity of endometriosis in some women, so it is better to consume as little animal fat as possible.
A diet rich in leafy, green vegetables, fruits and whole grains is a better option, which will also help with the constipation that can accompany endometriosis.
Opting for organic foods may also be beneficial, because they contain fewer toxins and may contain higher levels of vitamins and minerals than food produced non-organically.
- Physical Activity: The thought of exercising when you are in pain may be unimaginable for you, but exercise does help in coping with endometriosis.
When we exercise, chemicals, called endorphins, that are very similar to morphine are released. These are the body’s natural pain relievers and can help ease all kinds of pain. It is not necessary to exercise vigorously; even moderate activities such as swimming, walking and jogging can help release endorphins into the body. Another advantage of any physical activity is that it will help reduce the stress and tension you will probably be dealing with as an endometriosis patient. Plan a regular exercise regime of around 30 minutes three times a week and your struggle with painful periods and other endometriosis related pains will likely be reduced.
- Relaxation: Is as important as exercise. The body needs to calm down occasionally and shut off all of the thoughts related to daily stresses. A brief siesta, listening to music, putting on your headphones, or just watering the plants are simple chores that can leave you feeling refreshed and reenergized.
Researchers have found that in people with chronic pain, stress hormones are released in large quantities, which in turn aggravate the pain. Progressive muscle relaxation can help you relax every part of your body and lessen the pain. To do this, you sit in a comfortable place, close your eyes, take a deep breath and tense the muscles of your face. After a few seconds, release your breath and relax. The same technique can be repeated for the shoulders, neck, hands, legs or any other part of your body. Practicing this one to two times a day can make your body better equipped to deal with pain.
- Sleep: Every adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Even for someone not suffering from endometriosis, sleep deprivation can result in hormonal and metabolic changes, inflammation and muscular pain - so imagine how the pain due to endometriosis can increase if you do not get enough sleep.
Try taking homeopathic medicines such as lavender oil, or take a long evening walk for a better night’s sleep. If you still feel sleep deprived consult your doctor.
- Positive Attitude: Endometriosis pain will not be alleviated by sulking, so it is better to view things in a positive light. Harvard researchers have shown that optimism helps in the betterment of overall health. It may be hard for you to think clearly when you are in severe pain, but negative thoughts will definitely make the situation worse for you and those around you. Try to stay positive and keep the smile on your face.
- Simplify Your Life: Modern women are managing many things at the same time. Kids, home and career are all important, but not as important as your well-being. Try to make your life as simple as you can. Prioritise what is important and what is not and try to eliminate stress from your daily routine.
Support from Others
Support Groups – In the US and UK, there are hundreds of women who are dealing with endometriosis but are too scared to talk to people about it. It is a good idea to join a support group. Listening to another woman facing the same anxieties as you can help you to heal better than toughing things out on your own.
Training Sessions – Endometriosis is an overwhelming subject for most people, so if you find it difficult to understand the core issue, or make others understand your disease, a trainer can be very helpful.
Usually the trainer combines various education material and research to help identify various stages of endometriosis, the symptoms, the changes happening inside your body every month and the changes you will need to make.
This can make the disease more approachable for you and your family, and also make you better prepared to deal with your illness.
Many women have found beneficial practices apart from painkillers or surgery to make their life with endometriosis better. Treatments such as homeopathy, aromatherapy, massage, herbalism or acupuncture have had positive effects for many women.
Since endometriosis is a very individual disease, your symptoms will vary greatly from other endo patients. It will probably take some trial and error to find the treatment best suited for you. Try to maintain a positive attitude and stay open to trying new therapies.
Dealing with Friends and Family
When someone is diagnosed with an ailment, there are all kinds of reactions one hears from close ones. Some may empathise with you, some may just feel sad, others may want to do things to make you feel better and some may completely ignore you. With endometriosis, the situation becomes a little more difficult as it is not a disease that can be easily explained, or one you can completely overcome.
It is important that those who you see as your closest friends and your family learn about the daily challenges you have to face. In addition, you should be very clear about the things that it will no longer be possible for you to do because of your endometriosis.
Talk to your parents and spouse, and tell them what kind of support you are expecting from their end, instead of waiting for them to do something. Continuous pain, period pain, painful intercourse and infertility are topics that you have to speak openly about with your partner. You both need to understand the disease and make the appropriate changes best suited to both of you. Cooperation and understanding will mould your future and even give you a better chance to try for a baby.
Endometriosis will get worse if you let it take control of your life. Coping with it means letting the world know that nothing can stop you from leading a happy, fulfilling life.