Endometriosis Flare-Ups Have A Common Culprit: Stress. Here's How To Deal

Though you may not know much about endometriosis unless you or a family member or friend have it, the condition isn't rare. The World Health Organization reports that endometriosis affects about 10% of women worldwide, which is approximately an alarming 190 million girls and women in total.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue from the uterus, or endometrium, begins to grow outside of the uterine lining. The tissue can end up in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other places in the pelvis. In rarer cases, it can even be found in the stomach, bladder, and intestines. This is a problem because the endometrium sheds blood each month when your period arrives, and even if the tissue isn't inside the uterus, it still bleeds. The blood then becomes trapped with no way to exit, which results in severe pain. Consequently, it's also a leading cause of infertility.

One of the common characteristics of endometriosis is regular flare-ups that tend to be worse at certain times, especially during stress. But how can you limit your tension to make dealing with endo easier?

Stress can cause endometriosis flares

The relationship between endometriosis and stress is a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. The physical and emotional pain from living with endometriosis causes stress, especially if you are trying to get pregnant and having trouble conceiving. Yet when your body is stressed, the condition tends to flare up more.

According to a study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, stress changes the body in ways that make it primed for an endometriosis flare-up. When you're anxious or worried, one of the first things that happens is dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the gut flora. This causes bad bacteria to flourish and estrogen to increase. Your body can become inflamed, and inflammation leads to a flare-up.

Additionally, in those who suffer from endometriosis, immune cells in the gut malfunction. While experts recognize that immunity plays a role and is compromised in endometriosis patients, they don't know whether a compromised immune system causes the condition or if immunity problems are a symptom of the disease. Either way, finding ways to effectively manage the stress caused by endometriosis is the best thing you can do.

Stress management needs to be part of the treatment plan

In addition to following your doctor's medical protocol to help manage endometriosis, which can involve hormone therapy and anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen, stress management is a vital component of a treatment plan, according to Harvard Medical School. Keeping stress at bay can help improve symptoms and flares.

It's key to keep your day as organized and scheduled as possible while also allowing for flexibility. It can be especially helpful to keep a regular sleep schedule. One of the best things you can do for your central nervous system when faced with stress is to sleep, as sleep helps your body and mind rest and repair.

Next, it's important to eat well-balanced, nourishing meals on a regular basis. This will also help your system calm and reset while providing the nutrients needed to enable your body to work optimally. You should also carve out some time in your schedule to focus on balancing your body, as practices like yoga and meditation are very effective in soothing tension and anxiety.