Endometrial Pain And How To Treat It: Does Diet Help?

If you are one of the more than 6.3 million women in the U.S. who suffers from endometriosis, you probably have to deal with monthly pain and sensitivity. If your pain is severe, your gynecologist may have discussed treatment options, including medication and surgery. But if you have a lower level of pain, you may be wondering about other, less invasive ways to control the issue.

What Causes Endometrial Pain?

Endometriosis is the name of the condition where tissue from the inside of the uterus, called the endometrium, moves to another location in the body and grows. Instead of breaking down and being eliminated during monthly cycles, like the tissue that grows properly in the uterus, this has no place to go. The result is internal bleeding and inflammation that can hurt and, depending on where it is, can damage other internal organs like the bladder and bowel.

What are Some of the Common Treatments?

Gynecologists typically treat endometriosis using one or more of three main methods: Pain medications, hormonal supplementation or surgery.

Mild endometriosis can often be controlled through taking NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that control pain and inflammation, like ibuprofen. But constant use of NSAID drugs is coming under scrutiny for its side effects, like increased risk of heart attacks or strokes; it can also cause stomach upset in sensitive people, so it can't always be used on an ongoing basis.

Hormonal medications can include birth control pills, a progesterone or progestin-only supplement, or hormone suppressants that reduce your monthly cycle. Without regular monthly cycles, the endometrial tissue will not cause as much pain as it tries to slough off of the internal organs. Sometimes the side effects of hormonal suppression can be challenging, especially for younger women

Can Diet Make an Impact on Endometrial Pain?

Researchers have found some clues that certain types of foods in the diet may make endometriosis worse. Two studies done on Italian women under age 65 found that eating leafy green vegetables and fresh fruits lowered the risk of even developing endometriosis, while consuming beef and ham doubled or nearly doubled the risk. So it does seem that what you eat can impact your health.

If your level of pain is still relatively mild, you may find some relief by reducing or eliminating red meat in your diet, as well as the following:

  1. Caffeine and alcohol. Several studies show a connection between consumption of a significant amount (more than two cups of coffee or two drinks) per day and having symptoms of endometriosis. 
  2. Gluten. Seventy-five percent of women who eliminated their consumption of this protein found in wheat and other grains saw a reduction in pain and symptoms from endometriosis.
  3. Soy. Soy is high in phytoestrogens, or plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. It can have an effect on your symptoms, so many women find that eliminating it helps reduce pain and inflammation.

Talk to your gynecologist about the best ways to get your endometriosis under control without having surgery. Contact a clinic like Anchorage OB for more information.