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3 Ways Exercise Can Help Relieve Endometriosis

3 Ways Exercise Can Help Relieve Endometriosis

Learn how exercise can offer relief from symptoms of endometriosis, like pain and stress, and improve overall wellbeing.

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with endometriosis or have been living with it for years, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do at home to get relief from pain and other endometriosis symptoms. Millions of women worldwide live with endometriosis, and while it may seem counterproductive to hit the gym when you’re in pain, research suggests exercise may be effective at managing stress, releasing endorphins and reducing endometriosis-related pelvic pain. Below are just three of the ways exercise can relieve symptoms associated with endometriosis and how working out may help you find relief and peace of mind. 

Managing stress 
Endometriosis is stressful and can lead to missed days of school, loss of work productivity, pain with sex, and discomfort with bowel movements and urination. It can put a strain on healthy relationships, disrupt daily life and make a woman feel isolated and misunderstood by those around her. Women with endometriosis are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than women without the disease, and stress caused by endometriosis can, in turn, worsen and exacerbate the symptoms of the disease.  

Regular exercise can help protect individuals against the negative consequences of stress, both physical and mental. Physical activity can help you relax, improve your mood and increase self-confidence. Even on days when you feel it’s near impossible to get out of bed and do a full workout, try something simpler like low-impact stretching exercises or a walk around the neighborhood. 

Releasing endorphins 
Some days, it’s difficult to drag ourselves to the gym, but that self-disciplined, post-workout feeling of accomplishment is rewarding not just for the body, but also for the mind. Exercise causes the body to release chemicals, called endorphins, that act as natural painkillers and may help reduce discomfort and stress. Along with other neurochemicals, elevated levels of endorphins in the body play a role in exercise-induced euphoria and improving mood.  

One woman may feel better after a light jog in the park, while another will need an intense group cycling session for a mood boost. Try some group fitness classes (like yoga, tai chi or boxing) or reach out to a certified personal trainer to get a feel for what type of workouts suit you best. 

Reducing pain 
Nearly half of women with endometriosis live with chronic pelvic pain, and 7 out of 10 experience pelvic pain during their periods. For some, regular exercise can alleviate abdominal and lower back pain associated with endometriosis and reduce the need for pain medications. It’s difficult to predict how daily workouts will affect you and your body, so start slowly and allow your body to adjust and avoid injury. 

In addition to reducing pain, managing stress and improving overall wellbeing, exercise can increase energy levels, help with sleep and improve circulation. Endometriosis impacts every woman differently and there is not a one-size-fits-all treatment that will work for everyone. Before starting or changing your workout routine, talk with your healthcare provider, who can recommend the right type and amount of exercises for you. 

Medically reviewed in July 2019. Updated in February 2021. 

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