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Endometriosis : Natural Ways to Alleviate Symptoms

Endometriosis (en-doh-mee-tree-osis) is a common condition that affects around 1.5-2million women in the UK, regardless of their race or ethnicity. The condition can impact their lives from puberty through to menopause and beyond. It is more common in older, childless women above the age of 30 and can affect fertility in 30-50% of all those who have the condition. It is believed that endometriosis is sensitive to oestrogen, so women who have had more cycles and without a break for pregnancy, may be at higher risk.


What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where fragments from the lining of the womb (endometrium) migrate to other parts of the body, in particular the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, pelvis, vagina, bowel and bladder. More uncommonly, they can even grow in the lungs, heart, armpits or knees. These fragments or cells, react to the same hormonal cycle that women experience and no matter where they are in the body, they will bleed every time a woman has her period. Typically, when a woman has her period and the womb lining breaks down, the blood leaves the body via the vagina. However, when a woman has endometriosis, blood from the cells that are outside the womb has no escape and becomes stuck in the tissue causing scar tissue, pain and inflammation. Chocolate cysts, blood filled endometriomas, may form on the ovaries.

What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?

Symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Heavy periods (having to change sanitary protection frequently or bleeding through to your clothes)

  • Prolonged bleeding or spotting in between cycles

  • Chronic pain

  • Pain in lower tummy, pelvis or back that is usually more severe during a period

  • Dragging period pains that are worse around 5 days before and towards the end of a period

  • Painful intercourse, during and after

  • Pain when passing urine or a stools

  • Feeling sick, bloating, having constipation or diarrhoea when on your period

  • Blood in urine or stools when on your period

  • Fatigue or a lack of energy

  • Depression

  • Difficulty conceiving

Symptoms can appear at any time in the month with painful sex being one of the most prevalent symptoms, affecting around 60% of all sufferers. Symptoms can take over women's lives and it can often take years to diagnose as the same symptoms do have many other causes. With 1 in 10 women having endometriosis in the UK, it is important to check with a medical professional if endometriosis should be considered, as it can often be misdiagnosed. Endometriosis UK have a symptom diary that can help identify if the symptoms being experienced are in fact Endometriosis:

Endometriosis pain

How is Endometriosis diagnosed?

The only way to diagnose endometriosis is via laparoscopy where a small camera is inserted into the abdomen or pelvis through a small cut near the navel. It is performed under general anaesthetic and allows a good view of the pelvis, fallopian tubes and ovaries in order to identify any signs of endometriosis. Not all areas of endometriosis will necessarily be visible as some organs may have joined together by adhesions or be in areas like the digestive system which cannot be seen. Ultrasound scans, blood tests and internal examinations may not pick up endometriosis, however, this does not mean it is not there.

What are the causes?

The actual cause is unknown, however there are several theories such as Retrograde Menstruation where some of the endometrium flows backwards through the tubes during menstruation into the abdominal cavity; genetics; lymphatic or circulatory spread where some of the endometrium flows around the body via the lymphatic or circulation systems; immune deficiency; environmental factors such as certain toxins; Metaplasia where one type of cell changes or morphs into a different kind of cell. Women whose sisters, mothers or grandmothers have Endometriosis or those who have had a hysterectomy are more likely to also have the disease.

What medical treatment can women receive?

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for endometriosis. Instead, it is often managed via drugs or surgery to try and reduce symptoms and to improve quality of life. There are three types of surgery:

  • Conservative via keyhole surgery to remove endometriosis through cutting it out or with a laser

  • Complex surgery which involves many organs

  • Radical which could involve a hysterectomy.

This should be seen as an absolute last resort as it can often bring with it it's own problems. Drugs may be offered in two forms - either hormonal such as the Mirena coil, contraceptive pill, progesterone, testosterone or via pain relieving drugs. The hormonal drugs help to block or reduce the production of oestrogen in the body which means the endometrium cannot grow in the body. However, these drugs can have many side effects and should be carefully considered. Hysterectomy is often suggested as a cure, however, this would need to entail removing the ovaries as well as the uterus as they would continue to produce oestrogen if they remained. This would result in an "overnight menopause" and there would be a sudden onset of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, irritability, vaginal dryness etc. HRT, often used to manage menopausal symptoms, could result in other endometrial patches growing in the body (e.g. bowel) and bleeding again. The sudden loss of oestrogen could also increase the likelihood of Osteoporosis.

What can women do naturally to help alleviate Endometriosis symptoms?


Reflexology is a non-invasive, holistic therapy that works on the basis that all organs, glands, muscles, bones and body systems are represented by reflexes in the feet, lower legs, face, ears and hands. When specific massage pressure techniques are applied to these nerve reflexes, circulation is improved to the relevant areas and the body can begin its own healing process and ultimately bring it back into balance. Reflexology can help those suffering from endometriosis by reducing both pain and inflammation as well as clearing stagnation and debris in the relevant systems. Reflexology can also help relax the body and mind, reducing stress which can also impact endometriosis. It is helpful to have sessions throughout the cycle but the most effective time is during menstruation when the lesions are most active. If women are trying to conceive, it is ideal to start reflexology treatments at least three months in advance in order to have the best impact on the body.

Reflexology for endometriosis


There is now some evidence that indicates Gluten can affect endometriosis, and it is recommended to go Gluten Free, at least in the second half of the cycle as well as during a period. Gluten can cause malabsorption of fat, vitamins and minerals, thereby leading to female hormone deficiency. It can also cause inflammation which in turn affects the organs and hormones needed for the body to function correctly. Saturated fats in Dairy should be reduced as there is a belief that it can also affect endometriosis, possibly due to the oestrogens. It's best to eat a little dairy and low fat when possible. Again, if eating red meat it should be organic and lean and reduced to around once a week due to the saturated fats and dioxins it contains. Foods with healthy oils should be eaten such as fish, nuts and seeds as well as phytoestrogens such as lentils, chickpeas and beans which are anti-inflammatory foods. Alcohol should ideally be avoided or reduced to one or two units per week, as the liver helps to control the excretion of hormones so it's best to let it focus solely on this. Caffeine can deplete the vitamins and minerals in the body which help balance hormones so should be reduced to two coffees a day (or equivalent).

Supplements and Herbs

Supplements and herbs can help boost your immune system as well as rebalance hormones, It is recommended to obtain advice from a qualified Nutritionist or a Herbalist before taking anything suggested below.

The following supplements can help endometriosis symptoms:

  • Multivitamins

  • Minerals

  • Magnesium

  • B-Vitamins

  • Vitamin C and bioflavonoids

  • Vitamin E

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The following herbs can help endometriosis:

  • Agnus Castus

  • Milk Thistle

  • Dandelion Root

  • Echinacea

  • Cramp Bark


Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles through specific points in a person's skin, in order to help balance the body. It can help reduce endometriosis related pain and reduce inflammation. Acupuncture is derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine and can be performed by both Eastern Medicine based acupuncturists as well as within traditional western GPs or pain clinics.

Acupuncture endometriosis


Physiotherapy can help strengthen pelvic muscles, reduce pain and improve relaxation thereby helping endometriosis symptoms.


Exercise is beneficial for helping to reduce pain by improving circulation to the pelvic area and controlling excess oestrogen. Additionally, exercise can reduce stress as well as increase endorphins, both of which can help pain levels. Yoga and Pilates are ideal.

yoga pilates endometriosis


Heat can help soothe pain e.g. from a hot water bottle, a heat pad or castor oil packs.

Pain Clinics

Some hospitals run Pain Clinics, providing specialist advice and support on how to manage chronic pain. GPs can refer clients who fit the criteria.

TENS Machine

TENS machines are an alternative pain killer option, which sends electrical impulses through the body and help the body produce natural endorphins to reduce pain.

If you feel you you may be suffering from Endometriosis, try to keep a diary of all your symptoms and in the first instance, speak to your GP.

Abi Brazil is a Level 5 Clinical Reflexologist, with specialist training in Women's Health from Puberty, Fertility, Pregnancy through to Menopause and everything else in between. Abi also has training in Reflexology Lymphatic Drainage, Cancer and Palliative Care and runs Baby Reflexology Workshops. She is based in Whetstone N20 and Crouch End N8, North London plus offers mobile visits to these and surrounding areas. To find out more click below.


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