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Nausea and Endometriosis: Causes and Treatment

Updated on August 18, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Howard Goodman, M.D.
Article written by
Kristopher Bunting, M.D.

Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue, which normally makes up the lining of the uterus, grows outside the uterus, affecting the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other parts of the reproductive organs. Common symptoms of endometriosis include pelvic pain, heavy menstruation, painful bowel movements and urination, lower back pain, and infertility. Endometriosis can also cause gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel habits.

Nausea is a “sick” feeling in the stomach or belly, like you are going to vomit. Many people report nausea as a symptom of their endometriosis, especially during their period. Nausea can be a severe and debilitating symptom of endometriosis.

Many MyEndometriosisTeam members experience nausea and seek advice from others. Members ask questions like, “Has anyone found anything that helps with nausea?” and “Does anyone suffer with sickness/nausea? I was sick three times on Saturday and I’m feeling extremely nauseous today.”

How Does Endometriosis Cause Nausea?

A number of medical conditions cause nausea through a variety of mechanisms. The autonomic nervous system is involved in regulating gut function and plays a major role in nausea. The exact causes of nausea in endometriosis are not completely understood. However, scientists believe several factors may contribute:

  • Pain — Pain, especially severe pain, is known to cause nausea and vomiting. Endometriosis can cause pain in the uterus or other organs in the pelvis and abdomen where endometriosis lesions occur.
  • The location of endometriosis — Lesions can contribute to nausea. Researchers have found that nausea and vomiting are seen more often in women with endometriosis lesions in or near the bowels.
  • Prostaglandins — These hormone-like chemicals in the body cause cramping in the uterus during your period. Prostaglandins in your bloodstream can directly affect your intestines, causing nausea and other symptoms.

Hormones also play a role in endometriosis-associated nausea. Like other symptoms, nausea is usually worse during the menstrual period. High estrogen levels can worsen symptoms of endometriosis worse, including nausea and vomiting.

How To Prevent or Stop Nausea With Endometriosis

Treating the underlying cause of nausea can improve symptoms — as can treatment options that help control your endometriosis and decrease other symptoms. Therapies that reduce estrogen levels during your period can decrease pain, headaches, menstrual cramps, and nausea. Treating pain, including headaches, using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can also reduce the effects of prostaglandins throughout the body.

Other ways to address nausea include changing how you eat; taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications; using natural and alternative therapies; and, when other treatments don’t work, taking prescription antiemetic medications (drugs that are effective against vomiting and nausea).

Diet

Here are some tips to help you prevent or control nausea:

  • Eat high protein foods.
  • Eat a snack with carbohydrates and salt.
  • Eat bland foods.
  • Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day.
  • Drink clear fluids.
  • Drink cold fluids or eat ice chips.
  • Get some fresh air.
  • Avoid greasy, fatty, and fried foods.
  • Avoid large meals.
  • Avoid lying down or engaging in physical activity after eating.
  • Avoid smells that trigger nausea.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene.
  • Drink ginger ale, ginger tea, or mint tea.

Changing eating habits has helped some MyEndometriosisTeam members. One member said, “I get nauseous a lot. I try to eat several small meals instead of big ones. Doesn't always help though. And I still get lots of heartburn. Blah!”

Other members have found that eating carbohydrates helps their nausea. One shared, “I keep pretzels around because sometimes I can eat a few of them and then my stomach settles and I can eat some real food.” Another member said, “I had a bagel. Bread usually helps when I am nauseous.”

Certain beverages bring relief to other members. One reported, “What helps me is green tea or a ginger ale.”

Over-the-Counter Medications

OTC medications for nausea and vomiting include:

  • Bismuth subsalicylate, a class of medications called antidiarrheal agents found in products such as Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate
  • Dimenhydrinate, an antihistamine sold as Draminate, Dramamine, and Gravo
  • Meclizine, an antihistamine sold under labels including Antivert and Dramamine Less Drowsy
  • Ibuprofen or other NSAIDS, which inhibit the production of the prostaglandins that can cause endometriosis-related nausea

Natural and Alternative Therapies

Natural remedies or complementary and alternative medicine therapies that treat nausea include:

  • Ginger — Either fresh or in capsule form (dried ginger or ginger extract)
  • Acupressure — A therapy that entails applying pressure to specific spots on the body, especially the wrist when treating nausea
  • Acupuncture — A therapy that involves placing slender needles into different areas of the skin
  • Aromatherapy — A form of complementary and alternative medicine that uses essential oils to affect a person’s mood or health
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) — An ingredient derived from cannabis found in many health and wellness products to help reduce pain, nausea, anxiety, and sleep disorders
  • Medical cannabis — Legal in select states and territories

Many members of MyEndometriosisTeam have found relief from natural and alternative therapies. One member wrote, “I really get a lot of relief from nausea from peppermint essential oil.” Another member recommended ginger: “Some form of ginger (I use ginger chews or ginger ale usually) and/or cannabis are the only things that help my nausea.”

Other members have also found relief from medical cannabis. “Medical marijuana is the only thing that cures my nausea,” one member wrote. Several members have reported that CBD is effective for their nausea. One member shared, “I use a CBD tincture that I take orally as needed.” Another member commented that they haven’t renewed their prescription for Zofran (ondansetron) — used to prevent nausea and vomiting associated with various cancer treatments — since starting CBD.

CBD also helps some people with pain: “I hate feeling nauseous. When it's very bad and it doesn't go away, I take CBD and it helps, even with pain.”

Prescription Antiemetic Medications

Severe nausea and vomiting can be treated with prescription medications from your doctor. This includes drugs that work on receptors in the gut:

  • Serotonin receptor antagonists, such as Zofran
  • Dopamine receptor antagonists, such as Compazine (prochlorperazine)
  • Serotonin and dopamine antagonists, such as metoclopramide
  • Antihistamines, such as Phenergan (promethazine)
  • Cannabinoids, such as Marinol (dronabinol) or Cesamet (nabilone)

Many MyEndometriosisTeam members have only found relief for their nausea from prescription antiemetics. One member said, “I have prescription Zofran and Phenergan. … The only things that help me.” Some members report side effects from some antiemetics. One member wrote, “Zofran made me SICK! Unbearable migraine and vomiting!!” Another said, “I'm allergic to Zofran, but Phenergan works well every time.”

Remember to always speak with your health care provider about potential interactions between your current medications and any OTC drugs, new prescription medications, and herbal remedies you may be taking or thinking about taking.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyEndometriosisTeam is the social network for people with endometriosis and their loved ones. On MyEndometriosisTeam, more than 119,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with endometriosis.

Have you experienced nausea caused by endometriosis? What remedies have helped you? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Howard Goodman, M.D. is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and specializes in the surgical management of women with gynecologic cancer. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.. Learn more about him here.
Kristopher Bunting, M.D. studied chemistry and life sciences at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, and received his doctor of medicine degree from Tulane University. Learn more about him here.

A MyEndometriosisTeam Member said:

I have Severe Nausea and that would be great. Going to do more research on that medication. Thanks for the suggestion.

posted about 2 months ago

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