Why eating sugar is making your endometriosis symptoms worsen

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Melissa Thompson, PT, DPT, MTC

Dr. Thompson is board certified and the owner of Louisiana Pelvic Health. Her expertise is in alleviating bladder, bowel, and sexual pain symptoms during pregnancy, postpartum, and throughout a woman's life. 


Another flare-up…

Most of the time, you have NO clue why they happen, either.

It feels like your body is against you. It sucks.

Thankfully, there’s a way for you to take more control of your endometriosis flare-ups.

A big culprit to terrible flare-ups?


Keep reading to see what science has to say about sugar and a 3-step process to simply remove sugar from your diet.

What causes endometriosis flare-ups?

There are dozens of things that could potentially cause an endometriosis flare-up. 

But in my experience (and also according to science), there are 2 main things that are the most likely to cause a flare-up.


A recent study has concluded that stress can actually trigger endometriosis flare-ups and worsening symptoms.

They concluded that:

"Taken together, data from both animal models and human studies strongly suggest that stress does play a role in endometriosis."


There are many foods that could potentially cause an endometriosis flare.

But, a big one is sugar.

Here’s why sugar can cause an endometriosis flare-up:

“Sugar blocks your production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, actively encouraging the inflammatory nature of endometriosis.”

As stated in the section above, endometriosis symptoms worsen due to inflammation. And inflammation can be caused by a lot of things.

But, a SURE way to increase inflammation is to eat sugar, since sugar blocks your bodies ability to reduce inflammation.

Yes, sugar can negatively impact your endometriosis symptoms

Endometriosis symptoms can flare up when your body is inflamed.

And, sugar is highly inflammatory food.

Why does sugar cause inflammation?

It’s a short, step-by-step process…

  1. When you eat sugar, your blood sugar rises.
  2. High blood sugar forces your body to create advanced glycation end products, which increase inflammation.
  3. When you have high blood sugar, your cells can become insulin resistant
  4. When your cells become insulin resistant, your body stores the sugar as visceral fat
  5. Visceral fat produces pro-inflammatory chemicals

Basically, in short, sugar increases inflammation.

And since sugar increases inflammation in the body, it can also negatively impact your endometriosis symptoms.

How to “reverse” endometriosis naturally by avoiding sugar

While, of course, there is no way to reverse endometriosis, there are things that you can do to mitigate worsening symptoms.

Avoiding sugar is hard to do. It takes will power, planning, and discipline.

But, it’s also pretty simple. Just DON’T eat it.

Here’s a 3-step process to make sure that you avoid as much sugar as possible:

1, Remove sugar from your pantry.

The first step is to remove sugar from your pantry. When I say sugar, I mean bags of sugar that you’d use for baking or cooking.

2, Remove processed foods that contain added sugars from your pantry

Now that you’ve removed the bags of sugar, it’s time to ditch processed foods that contain lots of added sugars.

This means most cookies, processed snacks, canned soups, candy, sodas, protein bars, and even yogurt that’s supposed to be “healthy.”

3, Learn to read labels

Whenever you buy something from the store, read the label.

Don’t read the macronutrients that share how much sugar, fat, carbs, and calories the item has.

Most food (likes fruits) have a source of natural sugar, which is usually fine.

But, it’s the added sugar you’re hoping to avoid.  

Read the ingredients. Sugar comes in “hidden” forms under different names.

So, if you see any of these words, then stay away!

  • Dextrose.
  • Fructose.
  • Galactose.
  • Glucose.
  • Lactose.
  • Maltose.
  • Sucrose.
  • And more

Are there any healthy sugar replacements for endometriosis?

Yes, there are.

But, it’s important to remember this information:

Most “replacement” foods (think gluten-free cookies, dairy-free cheese, etc) when eaten in excess can also have negative effects.

So, while these sugar replacements are “healthy,” it doesn’t mean that you should be eating a ton of it.

1. Stevia

Stevia is probably the most popular sugar-replacement.

It’s made from an extract of a South American plant.

Stevia actually has zero calories.

2. Xylitol

This is usually extracted from birch wood.

Eating too much of it can cause bloating and diarrhea.

And since many women with endometriosis also have IBS, this is one where you need to be cautious.

3. Erythritol

This is a sugar alcohol that contains very little calories and doesn’t raise your blood sugar.

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