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Exercise & Endometriosis

by
author image Ashley Miller
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.
Exercise & Endometriosis
High-intensity exercise may be beneficial for reducing endometriosis symptoms. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Endometriosis is a disorder caused when the lining of your uterus, known as your endometrium, grows outside of the uterus. Symptoms may include pelvic pain, especially during your period, pain during intercourse, a frequent need to urinate, excess bleeding during your period or between periods and infertility. Endometriosis is typically treated with drugs, hormone therapy and, in some cases, surgery. According to the Center for Young Women's Health at the Boston Children's Hospital, exercise may help improve your symptoms.

How Exercise Helps

According to the T. Colin Campbell Foundation, women who exercise have a decreased risk of developing endometriosis. This may be due to the fact that regular exercise decreases the amount of estrogen your body produces. Endometriosis is a condition that is considered to be estrogen-dependent. Additionally, exercise promotes circulation and releases endorphins, which are pain-relieving, "feel good" chemicals manufactured in your brain. The Center for Young Women's Health at the Boston Children's Hospital suggests that these two benefits can improve endometriosis symptoms by decreasing pain and promoting the delivery of oxygen and other nutrients to your entire body by your bloodstream.

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Scientific Evidence

One study published in the January 2003 issue of the "American Journal of Epidemiology" by researchers Preet K. Dhillon and Victoria L. Holt states that women who participate in regular, high-intensity physical activity have a 75 percent reduction in the risk of developing endometriosis as compared to women who did not participate in any form of exercise. Irregular performance of activity or low-intensity exercise was not associated with a reduced risk. High-intensity exercises such as running, biking, swimming and playing tennis are beneficial for reducing your symptoms.

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic muscles. According to Robert H. Phillips, the founder of the Center for Coping, and registered nurse Glenda Motta in their book, "Coping with Endometriosis," Kegel exercises can help with certain symptoms of endometriosis, such as the need for frequent urination and bladder issues.

To perform these exercise, empty your bladder. Sit or lie down. Locate your pelvic muscles, which are the muscles you use to stop the flow of urination. Contract these muscles for a count of 10. You should feel an inner lifting towards your rectum. Release and repeat for 10 minutes, three times daily.

Warning

Consult your doctor before beginning a physical activity program, especially if you are new to exercise or have been leading a sedentary lifestyle. Don't immediately start with a high-intensity program. Instead, start with low-intensity exercises such as walking and work your way up to higher-intensity exercises as your body becomes accustomed to regular exercise.

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References

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