Diet, Exercise and Endometriosis

You probably don't think about the negative effects of your diet and exercise habits until you try to get pregnant—and can’t. In this article we take a look at some sound lifestyle habits and natural treatments that may reduce the discomfort of endometriosis and boost your chances of pregnancy.

Live a healthy lifestyle
As with many health problems that result in infertility, part of an overall natural treatment plan with endometriosis will focus on lifestyle changes you can make. These lifestyle changes will support a more positive outcome, both in the area of getting pregnant and also in helping to reduce endometriosis symptoms. 

For example, regular exercise has been shown in several studies to reduce a woman’s risk of endometriosis. If possible, include regular exercise into your daily lifestyle to increase fitness and manage any current symptoms of endometriosis.

Your diet matters
Some studies show that a diet high in red meat and low in fruits and vegetables increases the risk of getting endometriosis. Here's why: endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent health condition. Endometrial tissue levels increase in the body when estrogen levels are high. 

The good news? Some studies link healthy nutrition habits to a lower risk of endometriosis. And some studies show endometriosis symptom relief when participants added the following to their diet.

  • Fish oil: Fish oil is high in marine omega-3 fatty acids, which have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants found in vegetables and fruits such as blueberries and citrus fruits also help with disease prevention.

Avoid foods that increase prostaglandins
If you have endometriosis, try to avoid foods that increase prostaglandins E2 and F2a, chemicals in the body that cause inflammation and pain and stimulate estrogen. Avoid the following foods if you have endometriosis:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Dairy
  • Red meat
  • Saturated fat and all trans fats
  • Sugar
  • Wheat

Get to a healthy weight
Along with a healthy diet and better nutrition, it’s important to maintain a normal weight for your body to manage endometriosis and reduce symptoms. Avoid being underweight as endometriosis symptoms might flare. If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about a healthy weight loss plan to help you reduce. Your doctor may recommend a nutritionist who will supply you with a weight loss diet and recipes to aid in losing weight. And don't forget to exercise!

Do alternative treatments help endometriosis?
Some alternative medicine therapies may also help to reduce endometriosis symptoms. We review some of these options below:

  • If practiced regularly, yoga is a natural treatment that may help ease your stress and support optimal mental and physical health. Yoga may also help you cope with pain caused by endometriosis.
  • Some women with endometriosis use Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to complement their medical treatment plan. Some preliminary findings indicate that TCM may help to regulate hormones in the body.
  • Herbal tonics and acupuncture may help to ease endometriosis symptoms and help you relax. Acupuncture points are said to unlock blockages in energy (“chi) in the body. When energy can flow unhindered, the body can become healthy again.

If you are concerned about endometriosis, ask your doctor if any of these natural remedies might work for you. Recognize the control you have over your health as you select healthy dietary and nutrition choices and stay physically active each day.

Ask a doctor in your area about endometriosis

This content is Copyright The American Fertility Association (AFA) 2010. This content is intended for personal use and may not be distributed or reproduced without AFA consent. Please contact info@theafa.org or visit theafa.org for more information.

Sources
  • Vitonis AF, Hankinson SE,et al. Adult Physical Activity and Endometriosis Risk. PubMed.gov; January 21 2010. 
  • Fjerbaek A, Knudsen UB. Endometriosis, Dysmenorrhea and Diet. What is the Evidence? PubMed.gov; January 8 2007. 
  • Mier-Cabrera, J,Aburto-Soto T, et al. Women With Endometriosis Improved Their Peripheral Antioxidant Markers After the Application of a High Antioxidant Diet. PubMed.gov; May 28 2009.