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Dear Patient Care Advocates: How Can I Manage the Symptoms of Endometriosis?

Dear Patient Care Advocates:

I've had painful periods for as long as I can remember. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. It is quite painful and I end up feeling so run down during my period. Tired, nauseous, unable to move, just miserable- even while taking birth control pills to regulate my hormones! Is there any way I can help alleviate the symptoms of Endo? I'd like to start trying to conceive so I am stopping my birth control pills and anticipate an influx in symptoms. Thanks in advance!

Pained in Philly

Dear Pained,

Girl, I feel your pain! My best friend has Endo and although I haven't physically experienced her pain, I've been there to support her during some of the worst menstrual cramps and her struggle to become pregnant (which she did with a little hormone management and the help of Dr. Michael Glassner at Main Line Fertility!)

What we do know about Endometriosis is that it is characterized by growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus which can attach to other organs including the ovaries and bowels. Endo can cause debilitating pain and irregular bleeding which impact a woman’s quality of life on a daily basis.

What we tend to overlook is the fact that our diet and exercise greatly impact hormones, thereby increasing estrogen production, and may worsen the symptoms of Endometriosis. Foods that increase the production of prostaglandin- including coffee, red meat, soda, and chocolate- also increase inflammation and muscle contractions.

In general, if you limit your consumption of refined sugars and caffeine, increase water and omega-3 fatty acid intake, and exercise regularly, you should be able to lessen the severity of menstrual pain and bleeding caused by Endo. You should also consult a fertility doctor, nutritionist, and other available resources to help balance your hormones while coming off birth control. These changes will also boost your fertility since you are trying to conceive this year!

If you're interested in consulting with Dr. Glassner, send me an email. I'd be happy to help you connect!

Best of luck and Baby Dust,

For more helpful tips on hormone management, check out this video where Alissa Vitti discusses How to Transition off Birth Control Pills:

Click image to play.

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