Endometriosis Flare-Ups: Common Triggers & Solutions for Relief
It’s happening again. Your pelvis feels like it’s on fire. Is someone carving out your insides like they would a pumpkin at Halloween?
Is there a demon trying to crawl its way out of your uterus?
Because that’s how you’re feeling.
Endometriosis flare-ups are no joke — and sometimes it seems like the symptoms appear out of thin air. What’s causing your flare-ups, and how can you calm the beast inside of you when they happen?
Let me help you figure out what might be causing your endometriosis flare-ups. You’ll find out what I've learned based on personal experience — and numerous studies — and what you can do to find relief when flare-ups occur.
Table of Contents
- What Causes Endometriosis to Flare-Up? 5 Common Triggers
- How Long Do Endometriosis Flare-Ups Last?
- Solutions for Relief During Endometriosis Flare-Ups
- Chiavaye: Enjoy Sex Again, Even During Endometriosis Flare-Ups
What Causes Endometriosis to Flare-Up? 5 Common Triggers
#1: Visits From Aunt Flo
For many women, flare-ups are most likely to occur during their period, while others may experience them as early as a few days before.
These flare-ups are tied to the hormonal changes that happen throughout your cycle.
Yay! Just what you wanted to hear, right?
How Your Menstrual Cycle Can Cause Flare-Ups
Okay, but how does your menstrual cycle contribute to these flare-ups?
Your estrogen levels shift multiple times throughout the month. During the mid-follicular phase (the days before you ovulate), your estrogen levels rise and then drop after ovulation.
During the mid-luteal phase (the time after ovulation ends, but before your period begins), your estrogen levels rise again and decrease at the end of your cycle.
All of these shifts (especially when your hormones are already imbalanced) can cause your endometriosis symptoms to worsen.
#2: Uncontrolled Stress
It’s kind of a vicious cycle for those dealing with endometriosis. Chronic pain and discomfort can lead to physical and psychological stress.
And stress, along with increased cortisol levels, can have a physiological effect, making you more aware of your pain due to endometriosis throughout the month.
How Stress Can Cause Flare-Ups
Research shows that stress can activate an inflammatory response within the body.
And even if you’re not experiencing additional inflammation, the stress or anxiety you're feeling may amplify the pain you’re already dealing with from endo.
#3: Drinking Alcohol or Caffeine
Multiple studies have shown a link between too much caffeine and alcohol consumption and the negative effects on your body — but we’ll touch on those below.
Try to keep your caffeine intake at or below 200 mg. per day, and limit your alcohol consumption whenever possible.
Pay attention to your habits when you begin to feel endometriosis flare-ups. Have you been drinking more caffeine than normal? Recently come back from a girls' night out that involved a few drinks?
Although minimal alcohol consumption may not impact your symptoms, it might be best to drop the dirty martini and stick to a virgin Bloody Mary the next time you’re headed out on the town.
How Alcohol & Caffeine Can Cause Flare-Ups
Both substances do several things to the body:
- Caffeine increases estrogen levels, which may be what’s making your symptoms worse throughout the month. According to one study, women who drank coffee had higher estrogen levels than those who did not.
- Alcohol has been shown to aggravate and increase inflammation throughout the body.
#4: Lack of Sleep
You’re tired, grumpy, and uncomfortable. When your endometriosis starts to flare up, you find yourself up all night, tossing and turning, never feeling like you can get enough sleep.
And then you spend your good days catching up on everything your endo stopped you from doing the weeks earlier — only getting to bed much later than you’d like.
What if I told you that those nights spent up way too late could be playing a role in your endo flare-ups?
How Lack of Sleep Can Cause Flare-Ups
You need sleep. You’ve known that for years. Everyone talks about the importance of sleep.
Very rarely do they talk about how sleep affects the way your body functions.
The fact is, lack of sleep can potentially increase inflammation throughout your body — and you guessed it — cause your endometriosis to flare up.
#5: Eating Inflammatory Foods
I know it’s not something we want to think about.
We want to indulge in all the yummy foods — even just on occasion — without worrying about being punished for it later.
Game day snacks might sound great at the moment, but when you’re hunched over in pain as that imaginary cat tries to claw itself out of your pelvis, you’ll likely question if you made the right call.
When you’re living with endo, what you eat is something you should consider, especially if you notice endometriosis flare-ups are becoming more and more common for you.
How Inflammatory Foods Can Cause Flare-Ups
Diet has a great influence on your entire body — including factors that affect your endometriosis.
Eating certain foods can not only increase inflammation throughout the body, but it can also boost estrogen levels — and endo symptoms creep in when your estrogen levels rise.
What Foods Flare Up Endometriosis?
We’ve already touched on what substances may be causing your endo flare-ups, but the food you consume may also be contributing to your discomfort.
Foods that commonly cause endometriosis flare-ups include those that are high in:
- Saturated and trans fats
But those aren’t the only endometriosis triggers. Because of their effect on your hormones, red meat, soy products, processed foods, and dairy can also play a role in increased symptoms.
Dealing with excessive endometriosis pain and discomfort? Consider changing your diet, avoiding the foods mentioned above, and focusing on a more nutrient-dense diet.
What Foods To Eat During a Flare-Up
Focus on consuming some key nutrients that can help to avoid and combat an endometriosis flare-up, including:
- Vegetables containing vitamin B — Combat estrogen dominance by consuming more vitamin B, which helps clear excess estrogen and raise progesterone levels.
- Iron-rich foods — Those experiencing endometriosis may deal with heavier than normal periods. Combat the exhaustion that comes with them by consuming foods like spinach, other leafy greens, apricots, or beetroot.
- Fiber — Promote the excretion of excess estrogen by consuming more whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
How Long Do Endometriosis Flare-Ups Last?
Endometriosis flare-ups don’t last a specific amount of time — they vary from woman to woman.
Some women may only deal with pain for a day or two, while others may find themselves miserable for weeks on end.
If you are unable to manage your endometriosis pain, it is imperative that you speak with your doctor. Together you can work to find ways to avoid endometriosis flare-ups and manage the pain when flare-ups occur.
Solutions for Relief During Endometriosis Flare-Ups
Finding relief during endometriosis flare-ups can feel near impossible when you’re in the midst of them. Especially when all you really want to do is curl up in a ball and beg the universe to make the pain stop.
I’ve been there. Done that. It didn’t work.
What I have found that did work to reduce the symptoms and relieve some of the pain is what I refer to as the “miracle combo” of:
- A hot bath
- A cup of hot tea; and
- A heating pad to top it off
Although doctors are still unsure of how exactly heat helps reduce the pain associated with endo, we do know that heat can help open up your blood vessels, relax muscles, increase circulation, and affect your pain receptors throughout your body — which might be why you feel a little better after a hot bath.
But what can you do when taking a hot bath isn’t an option? Or when you want to continue doing the enjoyable things in life without keeling over in pain?
Talk with your doctor about which over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines might help you, like ibuprofen or naproxen.
For some, light exercise, like yoga or Pilates, helps reduce the pain. Studies have found that participating in an exercise program may significantly reduce symptoms of endometriosis flare-ups.
Remember, endometriosis flare-ups look different for everyone. What works for me might not be best for you — and vice versa.
Chiavaye: Enjoy Sex Again, Even During Endometriosis Flare-Ups
Endometriosis flare-ups affect every part of your life — especially your sex life.
And there are some things that a hot bath just can’t fix.
But we have a solution for that, too.
Chiavaye was created for women, by a woman, to make sex as enjoyable as possible, even when your endometriosis seems to be taking over your life.
After struggling for too long to find a lubricant that didn’t cause my endo symptoms to flare up, I decided to create my own. Chiavaye provides the moisture you need to make sex more enjoyable, and you don’t have to worry about causing a flare-up because you want to shake the sheets.
Stop letting endo flare-ups stop you from doing the things you love — no pun intended — and try Chiavaye today.
The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.