When you have endometriosis, it can really feel lonely. Sometimes it can feel like you are fighting the battle to wellness on your own. I haven’t received any extraordinary support from medical professionals and once, I asked a pharmacist and she had never heard of endometriosis.
So, it seems like it is almost entirely up to us sufferers to help ourselves by doing our own research. I have been scraping as much information together and reading academic and clinical papers on endometriosis, trying different things and noting what helps me and what doesn’t. I have found out on this journey that there are lifestyle, diet and fitness choices we can make to help alleviate the symptoms. There might not be a cure yet but there are things we can do. Also it isn’t one size fits all. You need to know your own symptoms and try a few different things. Don’t feel discouraged if you try something and it doesn’t work for you. Also, I believe this is a lifetime journey so don’t do it for 1 week or 3 months and then stop. Keep at it.
Know Your Symptoms
Endometriosis shows itself in many symptoms. Most times this is during our monthly period. But for severe cases, it could be even at random times in the month. A list of known symptoms can be found here. Not everyone has all the symptoms, but it is always good to know which of these symptoms you have and monitor your triggers. I have found a very useful questionnaire here. You can fill this out and take to the doctor. This will help with articulating the symptoms and also the degree of pain felt.
Diet is very important when dealing with endometriosis. The saying ‘We are what we eat’ never rang truer than for a person with endometriosis. Sometimes, it only take 2 days of eating sweet processed things like cakes or short bread, not drinking enough water or not eating enough vegetables and fiber for me to start feeling bloated and uncomfortable. It is okay to feel discouraged sometimes and bored with the healthy choices. But the important thing is not to give up. This website was created to share my journey and this is why I have a whole section dedicated to healthy, wholesome and delicious recipes which can be found here.
Also, it can be difficult to track what is aggravating your symptoms, and so, I have created a downloadable Food and Symptoms Checker, which will help you monitor what you eat and how it affects how you are feeling. This is a weekly sheet, so all you have to do is print a few of these out and fill them out as often as you can. If you miss a day, don’t worry. Just carry on whenever you remember.
Even for people without chronic disease, exercise is very effective in improving general well-being. When you are in pain a lot, sometimes exercising is the least of your worries and you just want to curl up in a ball somewhere and weep. However, I have tried and tested this and I can say as a matter of fact, that exercise helps me so much. It helps to lift my mood and helps me to feel hope. Not to mention the benefits on your heart. Exercise also releases some endorphins (chemicals) which interact with some receptors in your brain to reduce the perception of pain.
You don’t have to lift weights or run on the treadmill if you are not feeling up to it. But a 15 minute yoga, breathing or stretching exercise can go a long way. Also, walking at least 15 minutes everyday is very important for blood circulation.
I have also created a Daily Habits Tracker, which helps you measure simple daily things like exercise, drinking water, bowel movement etc. All you have to do is download this and monitor your daily choices. As you do this, you will begin to know what makes you feel good and what doesn’t and begin to slowly do more of the positive things.
Questions to ask your Doctor about Endometriosis
If you have endometriosis, chances are you haven’t felt like your doctor has listened to you. It takes an average of 7 – 10 years for most women with endometriosis to be diagnosed. Many women are told the pain is in their head. This affects our lives and our mental health. If you haven’t been diagnosed yet, I found a list of questions to ask your doctor. The truth is that you might not be able to ask all these questions, as appointment times are very limited. However, you can pick a few questions that you are comfortable with asking, and ask your specialist.
Make sure your GP refers you to an endometriosis expert. Don’t take no for an answer. You can download this file here.