Before I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I’d spend each period dosed up on a mix of acetaminophen, codeine, and ibuprofen, with no knowledge of how much I could safely take or what I could and couldn’t mix. I’d feel terrible as the painkillers wore off, and would be plagued by a throbbing head for days and constant nausea.
Pain relief is important, and for many with endometriosis, it’s essential. I’m grateful for access to the various medications that support us with such debilitating conditions, but my body just can’t cope with the side effects of the strong medication I have been prescribed over the years.
So when I finally changed my diet, I also looked into natural pain relief to help me cope with the symptoms I was experiencing.
These tools and resources can be used at home, and are relatively affordable and even free in some cases. It’s important to note that they may not work for everyone, and I still often find myself having to combine these with acetaminophen, but they do allow me to reduce the strength of the medication I take.
Women with endometriosis are often lacking in magnesium due to estrogen dominance in their bodies. During menstruation, women’s magnesium levels can be reduced by up to 50 percent, further depleting their supply. Magnesium helps to reduce cramping, so having higher levels in our body can help minimize endometriosis pain.
There are a few different ways you can use magnesium. A naturopath nutritionist informed me that our bodies have a hard time absorbing magnesium through the digestive system, but there are supplements available if you wanted to try this method, including powder that can be added to water.
My favorite option is a magnesium spray. It’s quite sticky and a bit itchy, but finding a sensitive version seems to have helped this, and I use it continuously during my period.
Finally, a soothing bath filled with Epsom salts can help increase your levels of magnesium and help lower pain.
A TENS machine delivers a low-level electrical current to the skin via sticky pads that are attached by wires.
The electrical impulses “can reduce the pain signals going to the spinal cord and brain, which may help relieve pain and relax muscles. They may also stimulate the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers,” according to the U.K.’s National Health Service.
There are many types of TENS available online. I went for a small, affordable version with only two pads, and though I really find it effective, unfortunately the wire often slips out of the machine so I become disconnected from the current. And, the pain relief often feels isolated to the area where the sticky pad is connected and I usually find myself wishing I had multiple pads.
My suggestion is to invest in a good quality TENS machine, ideally a wireless one so you don’t have to worry about yanking out the wire or positioning it around your clothes!
CBD is the chemical found in hemp plants that is responsible for the pain relief effects of cannabis, whereas THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects. Companies are now developing strains of hemp that have high levels of CBD and low to zero levels of THC for chronic pain patients.
Whoopie Goldberg, who has endometriosis, developed a line of medical cannabis products with Maya Elisabeth. The Whoopi & Maya company offers bath soaks, rubs, and even edibles to help alleviate period pain.
In the U.K., though medicinal cannabis is not legal, MediPen is leading the way with its own legal CBD vaporizer. I’ve been using this for about two months now, and the pen has helped take the edge off my pain levels.
Most endometriosis patients I know love their heat packs. Heat relaxes muscles, including cramps, and helps relieve tension in an area that is rigid with pain. Additionally, heat helps to calm aggravated nerve endings.
I tend to go for overkill with the heat by applying heat pads on the front and back of my pelvis and then using a hot water bottle or a wraparound heat pack.
Yoga stretches have been one of the most effective methods I use for reducing in-the-moment pain and calming me down when I’m distressed due to the discomfort.
While I personally have not found long-lasting pain relief from yoga, if I’m getting waves of intense pain, there are particular moves for period pain which really alleviate the severity and allow me to work through it.
These days there are many yoga classes you can attend, but if you want to hibernate during an endometriosis flare-up, there are plenty of tutorials to be found on YouTube.
These methods may not be for everyone, but hopefully, you’ll find something that works for you.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.