Painful cramping in the pelvis and abdomen during menstruation and sometimes the days before or after the period is one of the most common symptoms of endometriosis. Even though laparoscopic excision surgery is the gold standard for the treatment of endometriosis, regular exercise can help strengthen pelvic muscles, improve mobility, and reduce pain caused by endometrial cramps. Research has also shown that it may even help shrink endometrial lesions.
Can it prevent endometriosis?
It is unlikely that regular exercise prevents endometriosis. However, research suggests that it may help reduce the symptoms of the disease.
Several small studies have demonstrated that there may be an association between exercise and the risk of developing endometriosis. However, this association could be due to bias in the interpretation of data. Endometriosis symptoms can make it harder to be active and the disease can be difficult to diagnose. It is possible that women who had endometriosis (but had not yet received a diagnosis) and participated in these studies were less active because of their endometriosis symptoms.
A large study published in the journal Epidemiology reported collected data of more than 100,000 women over ten years, with check-ins every two years. Researchers asked the women how physically active they were and whether they had received a diagnosis of endometriosis. The results of the study showed no conclusive correlation between exercise frequency and risk of endometriosis.
How may exercise help with endometriosis symptoms?
Exercise has many health benefits, including improved energy levels, better sleep, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. It also reduces estrogen and progesterone levels, which can reduce the symptoms of endometriosis.
Regular exercise can also help reduce constipation, bowel pain, and bloating.
In addition to these benefits, exercise can help reduce inflammation, which may help slow the spread of endometrial lesions.
How do I start?
If you are not in the habit of exercising regularly, you should speak to a physician before beginning a rigorous exercise program. It’s important to start slowly and gradually increase your routine. This is because it is easy to hurt yourself when starting new activities.
For some endometriosis patients, high-intensity exercise can cause a flare-up of symptoms. Therefore, be sure to increase your regimen gradually. Be sure to discuss with your doctor if you experience symptoms following exercise.