Since there is no current cure for endometriosis, finding successful options to manage the symptoms is vital for a good quality of life. Conventional medical treatments like hormone therapy, pain medication, and surgery can temporarily ease symptoms, however, the side effects of hormone therapy and the high chance of symptoms reoccurring after surgery can be off-putting.
Based on numerous studies and patient feedback, several alternative remedies have proven successful in reducing endometriosis symptoms - the intake of specific vitamins being one of them.
Read on to learn more about the vitamins that can ease the discomfort of endometriosis, as well as other alternative treatments that are known to help.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is asymptomatic for some, meaning some women have endometriosis without any symptoms and may only realize it when fertility issues arise. For most women though, endometriosis symptoms range from mild to severe. The most commonly reported symptoms include:
- Pelvic Pain
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Dysmenorrhea (intensified bloating, pain, and/or cramping with menstruation)
- Spotting between periods
- Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
- Painful bowel movements
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Dyspareunia (Pain during sex)
- Difficulties getting pregnant
- Anxiety & Depression
Not all women suffer all symptoms so endometriosis typically feels different for every woman. Typically, excess estrogen, pain, and inflammation are the symptoms that need treating to improve quality of life and manage symptoms long-term. The trick is to find and combine whatever treatment options work to improve your symptoms.
Best Vitamins that Help to Manage Endometriosis Symptoms
When considering vitamins for endometriosis, it's important to remember that all vitamins are important for overall health, not just the ones mentioned below. Adequate amounts of vitamins can be ingested through food so it’s a good idea to speak with a nutritionist about incorporating the following into an endometriosis diet that suits you. If not, they can also be taken in supplement form.
Naturally found in foods like bananas, beans & squash, vitamin B6 can aid the liver in clearing extra estrogen from the body, thereby helping to re-balance hormones in women with endometriosis. This can help to improve PMS symptoms such as anxiety, bloating, and tender breasts, as well as reduce the pain and cramping linked to heavy menstruation.
This powerful antioxidant is known to raise low progesterone levels, which is something many women with endometriosis suffer from due to estrogen dominance. Raised progesterone levels can improve fertility issues and relieve PMS, as well as improve moods. However, vitamin C is also known to increase the production of estrogen.
It is therefore critical that endometriosis patients speak with a nutritionist about their current hormone levels before upping or lowering their vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient with lots of other roles in the body and should never be cut completely from a balanced diet.
In addition to helping the body absorb calcium, several studies have confirmed that vitamin D helps to alleviate pain. When it comes to endometriosis, an adequate intake of vitamin D can reduce pelvic pain, and painful periods, as well as help alleviate discomfort during sex. Interestingly, low levels of vitamin D are commonly linked to menstrual disorders.
Although naturally found in eggs, oily fish, red meat, and sunshine, many people are deficient in vitamin D, particularly those living in seasonal climates where sunshine is not abundant all year round. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to women with endometriosis and other conditions involving chronic pain. And when women with endometriosis avoid red meat to reduce their symptoms, vitamin D levels could fall lower.
It is therefore often necessary for many women with endometriosis to take a vitamin D supplement to help reduce painful symptoms, particularly during winter in a cold climate.
Abundant in foods like avocados, broccoli, olives, olive oil, nuts, and seeds; vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation. For women with endometriosis, this translates into an alleviation of pelvic pain, menstrual pain, and some relief of pain during intercourse. Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E can also help raise low progesterone levels, however, it is not known to increase the production of estrogen.
Other Alternative Treatments That Help Manage Endometriosis
Even though particular foods and vitamins can certainly reduce some of the painful symptoms of endometriosis, diet changes alone are rarely enough to successfully manage the condition. That said, combining diet changes and vitamin intake with other natural therapies can significantly improve the overall quality of life for endometriosis patients.
Before discussing the importance of certain vitamins for treating endometriosis, it’s helpful to understand the nature of what some nutritionists call ‘the endometriosis diet’. Rich in plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, seafood, and poultry, it is similar to the healthy Mediterranean diet.
However, the foods included in the endometriosis diet are selected for their anti-inflammatory properties and hormone-balancing abilities.
Foods that are high in fiber can help to expel excess estrogen from the body, for example. Foods containing anti-inflammatory properties like omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats can reduce inflammation. Food rich in magnesium helps tight pelvic muscles to relax, and zinc helps to balance hormones and regulate periods.
It is recommended that red meat and dairy are excluded or reduced for women with endometriosis, due to their high content of saturated fats which can contribute to an increased production of estrogen. Since women with endometriosis are typically estrogen-dominant, foods that produce more estrogen can increase the severity of symptoms.
Even though an endometriosis diet excludes certain foods, it is important to consume a well-balanced and nutritional diet for optimal health. For this reason, female health experts recommend consulting with a nutritionist to discern the perfectly balanced diet for you.
Pelvic physical therapy, for instance, is one of the most highly recommended treatments to reduce the inflammation, pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, and dyspareunia linked to endometriosis. Seek a physical therapist specializing in pelvic health in your area and set up regular appointments.
To sustain the relief experienced from pelvic physical therapy, many women with endometriosis also maintain a regular home practice exercises and pelvic wand therapy.
Made from smooth, body-safe, medical-grade silicone, Intimate Rose pelvic wands are recommended by gynecologists and pelvic health experts all over the world to manage endometriosis and several other pelvic conditions.
Relaxation Techniques & Light Exercise
Relaxing practices such as yoga, diaphragmatic breathing, and meditation help with pain management and can also reduce the stress, anxiety, and low moods associated with endometriosis.
Warm baths and heat packs are helpful to soothe any endo flare-ups or menstrual cramping. Light exercises like walking, hiking, swimming, or slow jogging have also been proven to help relieve the anxiety linked to chronic pain.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that provides relief from pain when practiced on a preventative basis. While it won’t relieve pain in the moment that it occurs, it can prevent pain from occurring in the future. Involving the insertion of small needles into the skin to connect with particular pressure points in the body, acupuncture is known to ease pelvic pain in women with endometriosis.
Consuming an endometriosis diet that includes specific vitamins, minerals, and food types to fight pain, anti-inflammation, and excess estrogen can ease the symptoms of endometriosis. When combined with other alternative therapies like pelvic physical therapy, at-home pelvic wand massage, and vaginal dilation - the results are often far more effective than medical treatments like hormone therapy and surgery.
If you are considering adjusting your vitamin intake to treat endometriosis, it’s best to consult with a nutritionist to develop a sustainable and balanced endometriosis diet that works for you and your symptoms. If you are keen to try pelvic wands and dilator therapy, consult with a physical therapist or gynecologist in your area for initial guidance and instruction.
Endometriosis Foundation of America – Endometriosis: Defining It, Recognizing It, and Treating It -
International Journal of Molecular Science - Progesterone and Estrogen Signaling in the Endometrium: What Goes Wrong in Endometriosis? - https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/15/3822
Endometriosis Association – Nutrition & Endometriosis - https://endometriosisassn.org/about-endometriosis/endometriosisnutrition/
National Library of Medicine - Nutrition in the prevention and treatment of endometriosis: A review - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9983692/
National Institutes of Health - What are omega-3 fatty acids and what do they do? - https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/
Science Direct - Monounsaturated Fatty Acid - https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/monounsaturated-fatty-acid
Harvard Health - Do pro-inflammatory diets harm our health? And can anti-inflammatory diets help? - https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/do-pro-inflammatory-diets-harm-our-health-and-can-anti-inflammatory-diets-help-2020122321624
National Library of Medicine - Dairy-Food, Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D Intake and Endometriosis: A Prospective Cohort Study - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3626048/
National Library of Medicine - Physiotherapy Management in Endometriosis - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9740037/