If you are an endo warrior, chances are you are no stranger to pain. Some women experience pain only during their periods and/or ovulation which can range from moderate to debilitating. Others experience pain all throughout their cycles. Pain can also come with bowel movements or with sex. Some women might even find themselves struggling with shoulder pain or leg pain. When this pain hits, it can come on quickly and hit you like a ton of bricks. All you want is some relief, right? Let’s explore some ways to reduce endo pain naturally so you can live your life to its fullest!
Why do I need to reduce endo pain naturally instead of taking pain meds?
For starters, let me just say that if you are having one of those days and you really need those pain meds, just take them. Really, it’s okay. You are human and all you want is to stop hurting. I get it.
That being said, the truth is that taking over the counter pain medications like NSAIDS can have an influence on the health of your gut. Studies have shown that these medications can negatively impact your microbiome. They have also been associated with bleeding, inflammation, and ulceration in the stomach and small intestine. Yikes!
This matters for us because there is a strong connection between endo and gut health that you can read about in my article linked below.
For me, I like to reserve pain meds for the need help now situations and then continue to work on a game plan to reduce endo pain naturally for the future.
Number One: Removing inflammatory foods to reduce endo pain naturally
Pain is often a sign of inflammation. So when we are looking to reduce pain, we are looking to reduce inflammation. So how do we reduce inflammation?
For starters, removing inflammatory foods from your diet can be a huge help. Now I know if you Google “anti-inflammatory diet” you will find SO MUCH conflicting information. Why do I know? Because I have spent many, many hours doing this! Then I convinced myself that if I just removed one more food I would feel better. And then one more…and then one more. I am here to save you from that.
The truth is that which foods are inflammatory is just NOT the same for each person. We are all unique and our bodies tolerate different things. A properly executed elimination diet is the gold standard for determining which foods do or don’t work for you. I also love to use the MRT food sensitivity test with my clients, which really helps to take out the guesswork.
Top offenders to take a look at if you don’t know where to start: gluten, dairy, sugar, eggs, and soy.
Number Two: Focus on the fats
Yes, you need fats in your diet! Low fat or fat free diets are not your endo friend. But if you are looking to reduce endo pain naturally, it does matter what kind of fats you are consuming.
What fats to focus on: Omega-3s are your besties when it comes to supporting inflammation and pain. These fats are directly used in your body to reduce inflammation via the prostaglandin pathways. Great sources? Salmon, mackerel, oysters, sardines, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin are wonderful foods to include in your diet. Try to get in some of these each week!
What fats to avoid: Where Omega-3s go through the prostaglandin pathways to reduce inflammation, Omega-6s can be pro-inflammatory. It doesn’t mean you need to avoid those altogether because we actually do still need Omega-6s. Most of us already get too much of this in our diets though and not enough Omega-3s. Look at reducing vegetable oils (including canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, etc.). These are highly prevalent in processed foods, so watch out!
Number Three: Eat the rainbow!
No, I do not mean Skittles! What I mean here is making sure your plate is colorful. Think about fruits and veggies that are dark green, purple, red, orange, etc. These colorful foods are full of polyphenols and antioxidants, which are also wonderful for reducing inflammation and pain.
Great choices here include berries, cherries, avocados, olives, spinach, broccoli, green tea, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, dark chocolate, and the list goes on!
How can I reduce endo pain naturally in the moment?
All of these strategies I have listed are things that you will want to be doing on a regular basis. But what about those moments when you are in acute pain? What to do then? I have listed some supplements and herbs below that you can keep on hand so you are well-armed for those days.
Curcumin is the active component of turmeric and is wonderful for reducing inflammation and pain. You can find this in supplement form. You can also find tea that contains turmeric or even use fresh turmeric in your food or make a golden milk latte. I personally take this in some form every single day!
Ginger is another anti-inflammatory herb. Some studies show it to have equal effects to ibuprofen for pain reduction. Again, this can be taken in capsule form or you can enjoy it as a tea. I personally have a turmeric ginger tea that I keep on hand and drink regularly.
Magnesium is a mineral that plays many important roles in your body. One of those is relaxing smooth muscle, and that includes your uterus! It is also heavily depleted with inflammation and stress, so having some around can be a huge help. You can take magnesium as a supplement (I recommend magnesium glycinate) or you can find it in topical form or even take a hot epsom salt bath. Epsom salts are high in magnesium, which can be absorbed directly through the skin and the heat can be soothing as well.
Heat can be soothing and help you and your muscles to relax. You can take a hot bath, enjoy time in a hot tub or sauna, or get yourself a good electric heating pad. I have even been known to pack mine when I travel!
I know, when you are in intense pain curling up on the couch is all you really want to do. But believe it or not, gentle movement can help relieve your pain. I like to do some very gentle yoga or even go on a short walk if I am up to it. Sometimes that just means around the house! Anything you are able to handle can give you some support, especially if you can combine it with some deep breathing.
Recap on how to reduce endo pain naturally:
One: remove inflammatory foods from your diet. Two: Include plenty of Omega-3 fats and reduce inflammatory Omega-6s like vegetable oils. Three: Eat the rainbow!
Remember too that the effects of these habits are cumulative over time. Doing this for a day or a week won’t show you nearly the impact that it will have if you do it for a year. Remember, the goal here isn’t perfection, it’s consistency. Just because you ate that donut yesterday doesn’t mean you can’t have a delicious, hearty salad or a cup of green tea today. Take it one day at a time!
The pain associated with endo can be intense. Finding ways to reduce endo pain naturally can give you support beyond your medicine cabinet. I always recommend also consulting with a skilled endo excision expert to see if you may need surgery as well as the natural support.
Feeling like you need a guide and support on your endo journey? I would love to help! Join me in my Thrive With Endo 1:1 coaching program where I help women each day to reduce their pain and feel great again!
More articles you might enjoy:
Rogers, Mary A.M.; Aronoff, David M. (2015). The Influence of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs on the Gut Microbiome. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754147/
Vallee, Alexandre; Lecarpentier, Yves. (2020). Curcumin and Endometriosis. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7177778/
Na, Hyo-Seok; Ryu, Jung-Hee; Do, Sang-Hwan. (2011). The role of magnesium in pain. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507245/
Romm, Aviva, MD. (2021). Hormone Intelligence. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
International Association for Functional Hormone Health. (2022). Functional Hormone Specialist Certification Program Module 4.2 Slides and Transcripts [PDF Documents].
Nutritional Therapy Association (2021). Fatty Acid Module Materials [Video and PDF Documents].