Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which tissue similar to the endometrium — which lines the uterus — grows abnormally outside the uterus. Many different conventional treatment options are used to manage endometriosis symptoms, including pain medications, hormone therapy, and surgery. Some people living with endometriosis complement these therapies with at-home remedies. Here, we explore different approaches you can take at home to help manage pain, stress, and other endometriosis symptoms.
Pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis. This pain can be severe and even debilitating. Although your doctor may prescribe drugs that can help relieve pain, such as hormonal contraceptives (birth control) or opioid pain medications, you may find that other at-home techniques can provide added pain relief.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, Advil (ibuprofen), and Aleve (naproxen), may work well for mild or moderate pain caused by endometriosis. NSAIDs are believed to work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins (chemicals) that promote inflammation and blood clot formation in the body. These medications are available without a prescription, but you should discuss how frequently to take them (and how much you should take) with your health care provider.
Heating pads work by relaxing muscles and promoting increased blood flow to the applied area, which can help provide comfort and relief from menstrual cramps and endometriosis pain. As one member shared, “My stomach and back are killing me. I tried new patches for my back, but my skin had a bad reaction. At least my heating pad helps with my stomach pain somewhat.”
Some people find that a combination of heat and cold works best. “Just had to leave work early because of a bad flare-up,” wrote one member. “Home now on my couch with an ice pack and heating pad!”
One member offered important advice: “Don’t fall asleep with a heating pad on. I love my heating pad, and after cortisone injections Friday, I fell asleep with my heating pad on medium. Now, I have a burn on my leg.”
There are many types of heating pads. Some are electrical devices (usually including a removable cover), while others may be filled with grain and warmed in the microwave. Heating pads may also offer dry or moist heat. You can try different types of heating pads to find the one that offers you the most relief. If you are concerned about falling asleep with the heating pad on, you can use a timer on the electrical devices, or use the microwave options that cool down over time.
MyEndometriosisTeam members have also recommended taking a warm bath or shower to provide similar relief as a heating pad.
A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit may help relieve cramping and pain. This type of therapy uses electrodes applied to the skin to deliver a low-voltage electrical current near the nerves. This stimulation is meant to decrease the perception of pain.
Because a TENS machine is small and portable, you can use the unit to treat your pain at home or on the go. As one member shared, TENS was a “game-changer for my cramps the last couple days … HIGHLY RECOMMEND. With this one, I can go to work, the gym, and anywhere. It’s such a relief to not miss work or be tied to a heating pad that doesn’t even help anymore.”
Other members have reported positive experiences with TENS units: “It helps a lot,” wrote one. “Gave me back my life.” Another member shared, “Along with meds and pelvic floor therapy, TENS is my best friend. I use it with heat for only 10 minutes of my 30-minute session, and it feels spa-like.”
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is extracted from hemp plants — a variety of the cannabis (marijuana) plant. CBD comes in a variety of formulations, including gel capsules, creams, skin patches, salves, tinctures, and skin oils.
Although CBD oil is generally considered safe, some side effects can occur, including nausea, fatigue, and irritability. CBD is also not regulated by the FDA for safety and purity. It is best to seek medical advice from your doctor before adding CBD oil — or any other natural remedy — to your endometriosis treatment plan.
Many MyEndometriosisTeam members swear by CBD to help manage endometriosis pain. “I find it helpful,” wrote one, “as long as I use it proactively before my pain level is too high. I also feel more comfortable using this for pain relief when I need to drive, go to work, attend appointments, etc.” Another member wrote that she uses CBD oil, “and it helps a ton! I’ve had way less pain in the last three months!”
Some studies also show that CBD may help those with insomnia fall and stay asleep. One member shared her experience with CBD’s sleep-promoting effects: “CBD oil helped me! It helped me sleep through the pain, as well.”
CBD has been reported to have anti-inflammatory and antiemetic (anti-vomiting) effects, and it may reduce anxiety and depression. “I’m using CBD and THC [the psychoactive compound in cannabis],” wrote one member, “and they help with anxiety and pain.”
Read more about CBD oil for endometriosis.
There appears to be a bidirectional relationship between stress and endometriosis: stress may worsen endometriosis symptoms, and endometriosis, in turn, can contribute to stress.
MyEndometriosisTeam members take many different approaches to relieve stress. Some find that essential oils and aromatherapy help promote relaxation: “I take stress relief aromatherapy baths,” wrote one member, “and rub sleep cream on my arms and chest. So relaxing!” Another member shared that she uses “essential oils for sleeping — they really relax me at night!”
Finding activities you enjoy may also help relieve stress after particularly difficult days. One member shared a photo of a cake she made from scratch with the caption, “Baking is my favorite stress reliever.”
Meditation, mindfulness practices, and breathing exercises can also offer relaxation and relief from stress. Taking yoga or meditation classes — or following guided practices from professionals — may help you quiet anxieties about your endometriosis, deal with stress, and reduce the effects on your body and mind from the stress of living with chronic illness.
A member shared her tips for deep breathing and relaxation: “Let’s take a moment to breathe deep into our bellies, relax our muscles. Starting from the back of the jaw, release any clenching of teeth or tight/pursed mouth, and gently exhale. Allow the relaxation to melt down your body, and focus on relaxing your pelvic floor muscles as you continue to breathe gently and deeply … Today was intense, and we have enough stress with this whole endometriosis lifestyle.”
Research has shown that regular low-impact physical activity — such as swimming, walking, and stretching — may help decrease endometriosis-related pelvic pain. Exercise can offer many different benefits, from boosting levels of serotonin (the hormone that regulates feelings of happiness and wellness) to acting as an analgesic (pain reliever). Exercise may help improve fatigue, relieve digestion-related issues like constipation and bloating, and have a positive impact on mental health. One animal study found that exercise could help reduce the size of endometriosis lesions in rats with lab-induced endometriosis.
You don’t have to throw yourself into intense physical activity — the key is consistency over intensity. Even 20-minute walks several days a week could help you see the benefits of exercise. Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, especially if you experience severe pain that hinders physical activity. They may offer you a referral to a specialist, such as a physical therapist, who can work with you on a tailored exercise plan.
Endometriosis is often challenging, but you don’t have to go it alone. MyEndometriosisTeam is the social network for people living with endometriosis. Here, more than 121,000 members from around the world come together to offer support and guidance and connect with others who understand life with endometriosis.
Do you use any home remedies for your endometriosis? Share your tips in the comments below or by posting on MyEndometriosisTeam.