It’s hard to imagine how life was before endometriosis: without the constant discomfort in the lower abdomen, the migraines, the water weight, pelvic pain and the lingering sadness. While no one can really predict its course, there are some lifestyle changes that can take the edge off its symptoms. Some of these changes may be hard to incorporate but quite rewarding in the long run.
“It is difficult for women with endometriosis to focus on lifestyle changes when they are suffering from constant pelvic pain that hinders their day-to-day life. But this is precisely why making lifestyle changes is so very important,” says Dr Bharathi Ramesh, Senior Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Banashankari, Bangalore.
1. Go plant-based
Cutting down animal products may help not only in the long run but also in the short run. Women who went plant-based have reported feeling less bloated, reduced pain and improved mood as some of the immediate effects of the diet.
“The symptoms of endometriosis can be worsened by the growth hormones in dairy. A high intake of non-vegetarian food like red meat can also aggravate your condition,” says Dr Ramesh.
The story of Katherine Lawrence is the biggest testimony to the virtues of a plant-based diet for endometriosis. Lawrence was an aerospace engineer from the United States of America who seemingly reversed her endometriosis within a few weeks of going plant-based. Her story can be read here.
Here are some awesome tried-and-tested plant-based meat substitutes. Blue Tribe tastes like real chicken nuggets.
2. Kick addictions to the curb
Sure, it’s hard to say goodbye to your favourite potato chips and mornings may seem bleak without your 3 cups of coffee, but the payout is massive. Clean eating makes you feel good from within even if it means cutting down on your favourites.
Processed food, alcohol, trans fat and caffeine are the four horsemen of the endo apocalypse. Avoid it like plague. “Have a balanced meal, which is majorly plant-based!” states the doctor.
Try this PCOD tea, which has some amazing hormone-balancing herbs like ashwagandha, giloy and mint.
3. Exercise in moderation
Breaking into a sweat every once in a while is good for overall health. To stabilise the level of oestrogen in your body, engage in some aerobic workouts.
“Go for that brisk morning walk; take your cycle instead of your motor vehicle. Making the habit of moving more will help you manage the painful symptoms,” says Dr Ramesh.
5. Reduce your stress level
Stress is a part and parcel of everyday life and it doesn’t come with an “off” switch. It’s also believed to aggravate inflammation, which can worsen conditions like endometriosis.
“Modern lifestyle has a myriad number of factors that cause stress, from work to personal issues. Adding a health problem like endometriosis to the mix just worsens stress and anxiety levels,” points out Dr Ramesh.
No matter how pointless it may sound, you should consciously work towards reducing stress. Watch a funny movie, go spend some time with someone you love, read a book, play with a pet, cancel some plans you didn’t want to be a part of in the first place. Do what it takes to bring stress levels down.
“You should engage in activities that calm you. It can be simple things like meditation and yoga. Remember to take things slowly at work, take required breaks. Seeking the help of a therapist or counsellor can also help you deal with stress issues,” adds Dr Ramesh.
6. Have a support system
Endometriosis wrecks havoc on your body and mind. So it’s also important to take care of your emotional well-being along with your health. Having a support system of friends, pets and family can make a large difference, and don’t be afraid to seek help.
“You could also be a part of online support groups for women dealing with the condition. Know that you aren’t alone,” suggests Dr Ramesh.