Women with endometriosis often experience pain in the pelvic region. This pain may be debilitating and excruciating during menstrual periods. It can also progress into chronic pelvic pain (occurring outside of the menstrual period) over time. This pain may also often be associated with gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, bowel movement changes), pain during sex, and fatigue. This article offers some tips on dealing with chronic pelvic pain due to endometriosis.
The exact mechanism of how endometriosis causes chronic pelvic pain is not completely clear. In fact, there is no direct correlation between the severity of the pain and the extent of endometriosis.
Here are some tips to help you cope with chronic pelvic pain if you have endometriosis.
Do not push yourself
You may find it easier at times to “push the pain away” and distract yourself by staying busy. But it is important that you do not exert yourself unnecessarily. Relax and unwind as much as possible. Do not hesitate to ask for help from family and friends for the occasional errand or for help with daily tasks if you feel you are not able to do it yourself.
Consult a physician immediately
Treating pain is not always a straightforward process. However, discussing what you are experiencing with your physician (whether primary care or OB/GYN) can be of immense benefit. Describing your pain and how you feel as elaborately as possible can help your doctor reach a more accurate conclusion. It may also help to keep track of your monthly period cycles and discuss with your physician how your symptoms may change throughout the month.
If necessary, they may refer you to a physical therapist or endometriosis specialist. Your physician may not be aware of endometriosis or the symptoms it can cause, and thus may dismiss your symptoms. If this is the case, it may be wise to seek another physician for the purpose of caring for chronic pelvic pain.
Take prescribed medications on schedule
Your doctor may prescribe certain medications to manage your pain. These may include over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Your doctor may also prescribe hormonal contraceptives to halt your menstrual cycle.
Such approaches will not cure the root cause of pain. However, they can provide temporary relief and aid in the management of severe pain. Be sure to take these medications without fail as per the schedule that your physician prescribed.
Although NSAIDS (ibuprofen, aleve, advil, naproxen) are great pain relievers and decrease inflammation as well, always remember to take them with food (even a few crackers will suffice) as chronic use can affect your stomach lining.
Ensure adequate hydration and proper food intake
It is important to ensure that you are well-hydrated throughout the day.
Avoid processed junk food and alcohol as much as possible as these can impact bowel function, further exacerbating pain. Instead, it is a good idea to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits and consume them at regular intervals.
Muscle pain and stiff joints and ligaments can worsen pelvic pain due to endometriosis. Long periods of inactivity can lead to stiff joints and muscle pain. Taking some time out of your day for physical activity such as walking or running can help both long and short-term with overall pain management.
Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen muscles in the pelvis may also help. Make sure to consult with a qualified physiotherapist before embarking on any pelvic floor exercise regimen.
Keep a tab on your emotional well-being
Chronic pelvic pain due to endometriosis can also have a toll on your emotional well-being. Making necessary lifestyle changes such as keeping to proper sleep and wake timings as much as possible, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and having a proper exercise routine can all help manage pain.