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Endometriosis and stress: what you need to know

Updated: Jul 5, 2023


Stress can impact the body in a variety of ways, including triggering inflammation and hormonal imbalances, which can worsen endometriosis symptoms.


Living with endometriosis can be challenging, both physically and emotionally, and managing stress is a crucial aspect of self-care.


In this blog post, we will explore the connection between endometriosis and stress, examining the research behind the link and discussing how stress can impact endometriosis symptoms.


We’ll also review some helpful strategies that can help you cope with stress and manage endometriosis, including self-care practices, support groups, and alternative therapies.


In this post, we will cover:


  • What is endometriosis?

  • What are common endometriosis symptoms?

  • What effect does stress have on the body?

  • What is the connection between stress and endometriosis?

  • How can stress worsen endometriosis symptoms:

  • Coping strategies for managing stress and endometriosis

What is endometriosis?


Endometriosis is a medical condition in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside of it, often on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other organs in the pelvic area.



This misplaced tissue can lead to a variety of symptoms, including pelvic pain, heavy or irregular menstrual periods, pain during intercourse, and infertility.


Endometriosis affects an estimated 10% of reproductive-aged individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB), and while its exact causes are not fully understood, it is thought to be related to hormonal and immune system factors.


Diagnosis is typically made through a combination of medical history, physical exam, and imaging studies, with laparoscopic surgery being the 'gold standard' for definitive diagnosis.


What are common endometriosis symptoms?


Endometriosis symptoms can vary widely from person to person, and some individuals may experience no symptoms at all.



  • Pelvic pain: This can range from mild to severe and may occur at any time during the menstrual cycle or during activities such as exercise or intercourse.

  • Menstrual irregularities: This may include heavy or irregular periods, or periods that last longer than usual.

  • Pain during intercourse: This may be deep, sharp, or burning, and may occur before, during, or after sexual activity.

  • Infertility: Endometriosis can affect fertility by causing scar tissue or adhesions that block the fallopian tubes or interfere with ovulation.

  • Gastrointestinal issues: Endometrial tissue outside of the uterus can cause pain or discomfort during bowel movements or urination, as well as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.

  • Fatigue: Endometriosis can cause fatigue or exhaustion, possibly due to the stress on the body from chronic pain.


It's important to note that these symptoms can also be associated with other conditions, so it's important to see a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis if you're experiencing any of them.


What effect does stress have on the body?


Stress can have a significant impact on the body, both physically and mentally.



When we experience stress, the body releases a variety of hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, that prepare us for a "fight or flight" response.


In the short term, this can be helpful in dealing with immediate threats or challenges.


However, when stress becomes chronic or long-lasting, it can have negative effects on the body, including:


  • Increased inflammation: Chronic stress can trigger the immune system to produce inflammation, which can contribute to a variety of health problems, including autoimmune diseases and chronic pain conditions.

  • Hormonal imbalances: Stress can affect the body's production of hormones, leading to imbalances that can contribute to a range of issues, including menstrual irregularities, thyroid problems, and sleep disturbances.

  • Cardiovascular problems: Chronic stress has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

  • Mental health issues: Chronic stress can contribute to the development of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Digestive issues: Stress can affect the digestive system, leading to problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, and ulcers.

  • Sleep disturbances: Stress can interfere with sleep, leading to insomnia or other sleep disorders.


These are just a few of the ways that stress can impact the body, and it's important to recognize the role of stress in your overall health and well-being.


What is the connection between stress and endometriosis?


The connection between endometriosis and stress is not fully understood, but research has suggested that stress may play a role in the development and severity of endometriosis.


Some studies have found that stress can contribute to the growth and spread of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus, as well as worsen endometriosis symptoms such as pain and inflammation.



One theory is that stress can cause the immune system to produce inflammation, which can promote the growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus.


Additionally, stress can trigger the release of hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, that can affect the menstrual cycle and contribute to menstrual irregularities, which are common symptoms of endometriosis.


Stress can also exacerbate the pain and discomfort associated with endometriosis, possibly by triggering the release of pain-inducing chemicals in the body or exacerbating inflammation in the affected areas.


While the exact mechanisms of the connection between endometriosis and stress are not yet fully understood, it's clear that stress can have a negative impact on both the physical and emotional aspects of the condition.


As a result, managing stress through various methods, such as mindfulness techniques, exercise, coaching, and support groups can be an important aspect of treating and coping with endometriosis.


How can stress worsen endometriosis symptoms


While it's impossible to know if stress alone is the root cause of your endometriosis, there are significant associations that are known to have the potential to exacerbate your symptoms.


Stress causes inflammation and endo pain


In the case of endometriosis, stress can contribute to the growth and spread of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus, as well as exacerbate endometriosis symptoms such as pain and inflammation.



Chronic stress can trigger the immune system to produce inflammation, which can contribute to the growth and spread of endometrial tissue and exacerbate the pain and discomfort associated with endometriosis.


Additionally, stress can cause muscle tension and spasms, which can increase pain and discomfort in the pelvic area.


Stress can also disrupt the hormonal balance in the body, leading to menstrual irregularities, which are common symptoms of endometriosis.


By reducing stress, you may be able to better manage their symptoms and improve your quality of life.


Stress can impact your mental health and quality of life


Stress can have a significant negative impact on mental health and quality of life. When stress becomes chronic or long-lasting, it can contribute to a range of physical and emotional health problems, including:


  • Anxiety and depression: Chronic stress can contribute to the development of anxiety and depression, which can significantly affect mood, energy levels, and overall quality of life. Anxiety levels will either lessen or worsen any discomfort associated with endometriosis. If a painful flare-up starts, and stress escalates, bodies will tense up, and pain levels may increase.

  • Insomnia and fatigue: Chronic stress can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to insomnia and fatigue, which can further exacerbate mental and physical health problems. Endometriosis induces several debilitating symptoms that affect women´s lives, including insomnia; however, there have been very few studies of this association. Insomnia associated with the condition can result in disease progression and increased pain.

  • Reduced cognitive function: Chronic stress can affect cognitive function, including memory, attention, and decision-making, which can impact work performance and overall quality of life.

  • Digestive problems: Chronic stress can contribute to digestive problems, including indigestion, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome, which can further contribute to stress and anxiety. Many endometriosis patients who report gastrointestinal symptoms are often misdiagnosed with diseases such as inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and appendicitis. This is because endometriosis that spreads to the intestines will often present many of the same symptoms as other diseases, such as painful bowel movements, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. A misdiagnosis is not so much a matter of good versus bad providers, but rather a physician’s lack of proper training to rule out diseases such as endometriosis. If a woman is experiencing her gastrointestinal symptoms simultaneously with her menstrual cycle, it could be a key sign indicating endometriosis.

  • Reduced immune function: Chronic stress can suppress immune function, which can increase the risk of illness and infections, and further exacerbate stress and anxiety.


Overall, chronic stress can have a significant negative impact on mental health and quality of life and can contribute to a range of physical and emotional health problems


Coping strategies for managing stress and endometriosis


Self-care practices for stress management


Self-care practices can be helpful in managing stress and improving overall health and well-being. Here are some self-care practices for stress management:


  1. Mindfulness techniques: Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, can be helpful in reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

  2. Exercise: Regular physical exercise can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and boost overall physical health.

  3. Healthy diet: Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help to reduce stress and improve overall health.

  4. Sleep hygiene: Practicing good sleep hygiene, including establishing a regular sleep schedule and avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime, can improve sleep quality and reduce stress.

  5. Social support: Maintaining social connections and seeking support from friends and loved ones can be an important aspect of managing stress.

  6. Hobbies and activities: Engaging in hobbies and activities that bring joy and relaxation can be a helpful way to reduce stress and promote overall well-being.

  7. Wellness coaching: Meeting with a board-certified health and wellness coach may provide valuable insights into everyday stressors and may provide tools and skills to help manage and mitigate stress


Overall, practicing self-care can be an important aspect of managing stress and promoting overall health and well-being. By incorporating these self-care practices into daily life, individuals can improve their ability to cope with stress and enjoy a higher quality of life.


If you're looking for a 360-degree approach to managing your endometriosis symptoms, discover a more holistic type of care through the ELANZA endo platform.





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