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How endometriosis symptoms can be managed without surgery or medication

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Endometriosis is a common condition that affects millions of women worldwide, and while surgery and medication are commonly used to manage symptoms, there are also alternative options.

In this blog, we'll explore how endometriosis symptoms can be managed without surgery or medication.

We'll cover natural remedies, such as acupuncture, yoga, and herbal supplements, which have been shown to help relieve pain and discomfort associated with endometriosis.

Additionally, we'll discuss lifestyle changes, including dietary modifications and stress reduction techniques, that can also provide significant relief.

With this helpful guide, you can learn more about managing endometriosis symptoms without relying on surgery or medication, and find a treatment plan that works for you.

What we are covering:

  • Weighing the pros and cons of medication and surgery

  • Pain management techniques for endo beyond medication or surgery

Endometriosis is a chronic condition that affects an estimated 1 in 10 women assigned female at birth (AFAB) of reproductive age.

It occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus, usually in the pelvis and abdominal area. This displaced tissue can cause a range of symptoms, including severe pain, heavy periods, and fertility challenges.

While medication and surgery are common treatments for endometriosis, they may not be suitable, effective, or desirable for everyone.

In fact, there are a lot of variables to weigh up when choosing a treatment pathway that works for you. Everything from your values, your family-building goals, your overall health, financial options, and personal preferences all need to be taken into account when determining a treatment path forward.

But the evidence is clear, taking what’s called a ‘multidisciplinary approach’ is the best way to help manage pain and improve your overall quality of life.

This means that you may want to try multiple approaches at the same time - looking at your options from a clinical perspective but also taking your lifestyle and mental health into account.

Weighing the pros and cons of medication and surgery

There is no question that the traditional healthcare system is not set up to support those living with endometriosis. Clinical care for this chronic condition comes with a lot of unfortunate realities that you may have already experienced firsthand. Let’s review…

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs):

Pros: NSAIDs are easily accessible over-the-counter, and they can provide quick relief for mild to moderate pain caused by endometriosis. They also reduce inflammation, which is a common symptom of endometriosis.

Cons: NSAIDs may cause side effects such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and kidney problems if taken in high doses or for an extended period of time. They are not recommended for individuals with a history of ulcers, liver or kidney problems, or heart disease.

Hormonal birth control:

Pros: Hormonal birth control can help regulate menstrual cycles and reduce pain by thinning the endometrial tissue. Some types of hormonal birth control, such as the hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), can also reduce heavy bleeding associated with endometriosis.

Cons: Hormonal birth control may cause side effects such as nausea, headaches, and changes in mood. They may also increase the risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attack in some individuals. This is also not an option if you’re trying to get pregnant. And, as a preference, many would rather not use any type of hormonal intervention.

GnRH (Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone) Agonists:

Pros: GnRH agonists can temporarily halt the production of estrogen, which can reduce the growth of endometrial tissue and alleviate pain.

Cons: GnRH agonists may cause side effects such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and bone loss. They are also not recommended for long-term use as they can lead to infertility. Again, this is not an option if you’re trying to conceive and can be rather expensive.


Pros: Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that allows for a visual examination of the pelvic cavity. It can effectively remove endometrial-like tissue and is associated with a quicker recovery time than other surgical options.

Cons: Laparoscopy may not be effective in removing deeply infiltrated endometrial-like tissue. It may also result in adhesions (scar tissue) that can cause pain and infertility.


Pros: Laparotomy is a more extensive surgical procedure that allows for a more thorough removal of endometrial-like tissue, including deeply infiltrated tissue.

Cons: Laparotomy is a more invasive procedure that requires a longer recovery time and is associated with a higher risk of complications, such as infection and blood loss. While this may be an effective solution for many, this surgery is almost never covered by insurance and very few doctors are specialized enough to do the surgery effectively. As such, there are very few surgery centers in the US, which means you may have to travel across state lines. And, it’s likely that the cost will be out-of-pocket - to the tune of $20k.


Pros: Hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus and can effectively alleviate pain caused by endometriosis. This is often seen as the last available option for those who do not want to become pregnant or who have not had success with other treatments.

Cons: Hysterectomy is a permanent procedure that results in the end of menstruation and the loss of the ability to become pregnant. It may also result in changes to sexual function and emotional well-being.

It's important to keep in mind that the choice of surgery will depend on your specific symptoms, health history, and personal preferences. It's always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

Pain management techniques for endo beyond medication or surgery

Whether you decide to move forward with the options above or want to avoid them altogether, taking a multidisciplinary approach will be a great way to take control back over the pain.

While there is no silver bullet, we’ll review some non-clinical options for managing the pain and other symptoms associated with endometriosis. Keep in mind that these may not work for everyone and you might just need to keep trying different options until you find the right combination that works for you.

  1. Heat therapy: Applying heat to the abdominal area can help to relax the muscles and reduce cramping and pain. This can be done using a heating pad, hot water bottle, or heating patch. Some find relief by taking warm baths or showers, or by using a menstrual cup filled with warm water.

  2. Exercise: Regular exercise has been shown to reduce pain and improve overall well-being in people with endometriosis. This can include low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, and yoga, as well as more strenuous exercises like running and weight lifting. It is important to choose activities that feel comfortable and listen to your body's limits.

  3. Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. Some studies have suggested that acupuncture may be effective in reducing pain and other symptoms associated with endometriosis.

  4. Massage: Massage therapy can help to relax the muscles and alleviate pain. Massage therapists can target specific areas of the body that are causing discomfort.

  5. Pelvic floor physical therapy: The pelvic floor muscles support the uterus, bladder, and rectum, and problems with these muscles can contribute to endometriosis-related pain. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help to strengthen and relax these muscles, which may reduce pain and improve function.

  6. Dietary changes: Some people with endometriosis find that certain foods trigger or worsen their symptoms. Common culprits include caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, and dairy products. Keeping a food diary and eliminating suspected trigger foods may help to reduce pain and other symptoms.

  7. Supplements: Certain supplements may help to reduce endometriosis-related pain and other symptoms. These can include omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and turmeric. It is important to speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

  8. Relaxation techniques: Stress can worsen endometriosis symptoms, so finding ways to relax and manage stress can be beneficial. This can include techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation.

  9. Support groups: Connecting with others who have endometriosis can be a valuable source of support and information. Support groups can provide a sense of community and offer tips for managing the condition. These groups can be found online or in person through local organizations or hospitals.

  10. Lifestyle changes: Making certain lifestyle changes can help to reduce pain and other endometriosis symptoms. This can include quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, getting enough sleep, and managing work and other stressors.

In conclusion, managing endometriosis either in combination with surgery/medication - or as a potential replacement - is possible with a variety of self-care strategies and lifestyle changes.

It is important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment and to be open to trying different approaches until you find what works best for you.

Remember to listen to your body and take breaks when needed. With proper care and management, it is possible to live a full and active life with endometriosis.

Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself and seek the support and resources to help you live your best life despite endometriosis.

If you are considering surgery and are looking for additional support in navigating your options, our care team is more than capable of assisting you, sign up today and meet with a care navigator as soon as tomorrow.


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