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March is Endometriosis awareness month and I wanted to write a post about coping with Endometriosis. Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 and has a huge impact on everyday life.

I live with Endometriosis, yet I hadn’t even heard of it until my mid-twenties. Which is not uncommon.

Despite affecting as many people as diabetes, there is still much to learn about Endometriosis and more research and education is needed.

A Brief Explanation of What Endometriosis Is

I’ve already published a post called what is Endometriosis, so please read that post first if you are unsure of what Endometriosis is.

But, to give a brief re-cap, Endometriosis is a long-term health condition where cells similar to those that line the uterus grow elsewhere in the body. These cells build-up each month then break down but the blood has nowhere to go, causing inflammation, pain and scarring.

You may think Endometriosis only affects someone during their period but this is far from the truth. The symptoms can fluctuate throughout a menstrual cycle and can be debilitating for many.

Living & Coping with Endometriosis

Living and coping with Endometriosis is challenging. It is a complex condition and takes a multi-faceted approach.

Medical help is important and there is no replacement for that. However, there are also things you can do to help yourself.

Below I chat about how I cope with Endometriosis. I appreciate everyone is different but I hope you can relate and find it helpful.

As always, I am not a medical professional and I’m simply a patient sharing my insight and experience.

1. Accepting THAT ENDOMETRIOSIS IS A long-term condition

Living with symptoms that have no end-date is a challenge. I especially struggled with my Endometriosis diagnosis because it came at a time where I felt I was finally getting my life back after years of struggling with Fibromyalgia and Lyme Disease.

To then learn I had yet something else to deal with was a bummer, to put it lightly.

I had to remind myself that it was very probable I’d been living with Endometriosis all along (the symptoms overlap with other conditions) and that finally finding out was a positive thing.

Thankfully, having already gained years of experience of living with chronic illness, I had a toolbox of strategies for coping with a new diagnosis.

For me, one of the most helpful things has been accepting that Endometriosis is a long-term condition and that I need to accept that and go with the flow of things.

2. pacing myself With Endometriosis

And, a big part of doing that is pacing myself.

Pacing is a word that will be familiar to a lot of people living with chronic illness. I first learned about pacing when I was learning to live with Fibromyalgia and Lyme Disease.

I never fully got to grips with it at that time as my health often fluctuated regardless of what I did! However, with where I am now, pacing is incredibly helpful.

What pacing means to me depends on where I am within my cycle.

During the follicular phase, I always feel at my best. Although it’s still important for me to factor periods of rest into my day and not get carried away, I can typically be more active and get more done.

However, I absolutely need to slow during the luteal phase of my cycle. Some months it’s a gradual shift in energy but, for others, it can honestly feel like a someone has abruptly pulled the plug out!

I used to resent this and try to push through but the only thing I ever achieved was landing myself in bed.

Instead, I now go with the flow and rest a whole lot more. While this can be frustrating at times, it honestly keeps me more productive overall.

Rather than having huge up and down swings of energy, I am maintaining a more consistent level (though there can be the odd outlier month that just absolutely kicks my ass for the fun of it!).

3. Re-aligning my expectations

And a big part of being successful with pacing myself is that I’ve had to re-align my expectations of what I can do. I am someone who is naturally ambitious and there are so many things I’d love to do.

I’ve been fortunate in that, for the past couple of years, I’ve followed a general trend of my health steadily improving (with lots of ups and downs within that: it’s never a linear path).

This has been incredible and I’ve been so grateful. But, I also found myself falling into the trap of constantly reaching for more. And, I’ve had to remind myself that, just because I can do something, it doesn’t mean I always should.

Which makes me laugh because I went through the exact same learning process back in 2015. I guess it’s easy to forget the things that help you!

My body is now resilient enough that I can occassionally push myself to do more without suffering repercussions. But, if it became a regular occurrence I’d run into problems.

I’m realising that it’s okay to take life at a slower-pace and that I need to rest more.

4. Prioritising

Another thing that helps with the above two points is prioritising. I’ve had to really think about what I need to do vs. what I could/want to do.

For me, my priorities (beyond daily living) are fulfilling orders in my Etsy shop and getting out each day to walk my dog. Luckily I can generally do both without issue every day; by adapting where and how far I walk my dog and pacing myself when making orders as I need to.

Everything above and beyond this has to wait until I feel able to do it. Blogging has taken a bit of a backseat, I only paint and create new products for my shop when I have the energy to do so.

It’s absolutely okay to say no at times and for it to take longer to achieve goals.

Life is not a race.

5. Pain Management For Coping With Endometriosis

Endometriosis can be an incredibly painful condition. Though, it’s important to say that the severity of pain does not always correlate with severity of disease. And pain is only one symptom.

For me, I experience pain differently throughout the month and some months are better than others.

Generally speaking, I get terrible left-sided pelvic pain (that’s where my endo is) and cramps during my period. If I haven’t gotten on top of it, this can have me curled up in the foetal position or pacing around, holding my abdomen while focussing on deep breaths.

Humour is a coping mechanism for me and I always say to my husband that I’m alright, I’m just doing my finest “one born every minute” impression. Though, in reality, there’s nothing funny about feeling like a shark is trying to bite its way out of your uterus!

In addition to the pelvic pain, I get bad lower back, hip and leg pains during the first couple of days of my period.

Before I had a Mirena coil fitted, I also experienced pelvic pain at ovulation. Plus a tugging pain and a cystitis-type pain on my left side throughout the month (my endo is very close to my ureter). This has been less of an issue since having the Mirena.

The Mirena isn’t a miracle worker and isn’t without its issues but it seems to be helping me.

Pain management is something that needs to be discussed between you and your doctor but– in addition to the Mirena– here are a few things that help me.

My absolute go-to for my Endometriosis pain is my Oska Pulse*. I was very kindly gifted this pain-relief device a few years ago to review for my Fibromyalgia pain.

The Oska Pulse* uses pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy that reduces inflammation and pain.

Will it work for everyone? I obviously can’t answer that but one thing I know for sure is that it’s a godsend for my Endometriosis pain.

Save $55 on the Oska Pulse with the code FEBRUARYSTARS. Click to shop.Apart from this, my other pain-relieving tools are mainly ibuprofen (taken before my period starts or else I find it pointless for pain) and heat; heat pads, hot water bottles, baths.

I have tried a whole bunch of natural products  (including those that helped me a lot when I was sick with Lyme Disease) but, unforunately, they don’t help my Endometriosis symptoms enough to warrant the cost of them.

It is worth doing your own research and speaking with your doctor to see if any supplements could potentially help you.

6. Eating Well & Exercising when able

One thing that does help me, though, is diet. This will likely be different for everyone and I am not a nutritionist.

An anti-inflammatory diet is one that is most commonly recommended for Endometriosis.

For me personally, I know that dairy is a problem . I have an intolerance to dairy so I generally avoid it. But, if I happened to eat it around the time of my period my cramps are absolutely horrific.

Alcohol is the same and I, therefore, rarely drink any. I occasionally have the odd gin or two but it’s a rare occurrence.

In general terms, I simply try to eat healthily. Which, for me, means eating a whole bunch of fresh vegetables, limiting my sugar intake and limiting processed foods. I don’t eat meat either but this is through choice.

In addition to diet, another thing that helps me is exercise. Sometimes this just means some gentle movement or going for a walk.

At other times in the month, I  feel a whole lot better from doing cardio exercise. However, the key is to listen to my body and to never push myself.


What about you? What strategies do you use for coping with Endometriosis? Add to the discussion in the comments section below.

FURTHER READING:


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Author

Hello, I'm Donna. I'm a Scottish artist who lives with chronic illness. My blog began in 2013 as a means for me to share and connect with others living with chronic illness. On my blog, I have shared my journey back to better health and the diagnoses I faced along the way. I now work as an artist and sell my products in my online shop. I continue to write about chronic illness on my blog and also share helpful posts about art, business and bullet journalling.

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