Pain management tips from an endometriosis sufferer

Co-written by Natasja Reicheld and Dr Emma Rees of Femma

Anybody living with endometriosis will tell you that pain management is probably one of the hardest things about living with this chronic condition. More often than not, just when you think you may have hacked it, finding a remedy or some short-term relief, the pain is only ever subsidised for a small amount of time. For me, pain is the most prevailing symptom that I experience, despite having the Mirena coil to reduce my ovulation and menstruation cycles, it is rare for them to completely dissipate. In saying that, with 12 years of experience, marking my first painful period at just 12 years old, I have found a number of multidisciplinary ways to reduce pain and kind of preserve the quality of my day.

Please know that as someone with endometriosis, I acknowledge that everybody’s experience and pain relief may look different, however I think all avenues are worth a shot because you never know what might work best for you.

Heat
I know. This is one of the oldest and most obvious tricks in the pain relief book, but I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t help, even if it’s just a little. I keep both a heat pack and heat warming pads at work and in the car. I take absolutely no shame in pulling out my lamb shaped heat pack and popping it in the microwave in front of my colleagues and friends, no matter where we are. It’s not the most convenient and definitely clunky and reliant on having a microwave nearby, but I recommend having heat warming stick pads in your bag if you do need something a bit more discreet. Warm baths and showers also work wonders too! Heat increases tissue elasticity which then relieves muscle tension and also increases blood flow to the area enabling toxins to be removed and nutrients delivered to the painful area.

Move your body

We have now all heard the stories of crippling pain, leaving endometriosis sufferers curled up in a ball around a heat pack. Sometimes the idea of moving is nauseating enough but it is something that I have always found remedy in. Here, I am not talking about threshold exercise or hard core workouts, more so light movement  such as gentle walking, stretching, or even standing up and swaying side to side. If you are able to move enough to raise your heart rate slightly, this can also release some positive endorphins that may aid in you feeling a little better. Movement is also linked to improved immune function which is so important for people living with endometriosis.

Eat well

The psychological effects of eating well are always handy, knowing you are nourishing your body the best you can, but there are definitely some serious pros of eating an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce pain flare ups. Omega-3 fats can calm inflammation from endometriosis. Foods like avocados, nuts, olive oil,  and other plant based oils are all very high in omega-3. Magnesium rich foods also act to reduce menstrual cramps as it is a natural muscle relaxer. Whilst I take magnesium in an effervescent tablet in the mornings, you can find it naturally in dark chocolate, leafy greens, legumes and seeds.

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