Endometriosis is a chronic condition where the endometrial tissue that normally lies inside the uterus migrates to outside of the uterus. The most common places to find endometrial-like tissue are the on the walls of the pelvic cavity, the ovaries, bladder and bowel, and on the thin wall dividing the rectum from the vagina. In very rare instances, endometrial-like tissue has been found in the lungs, which explains the bloody cough at the time of menstruation. It occurs in 1 in 9 women and can cause symptoms such as pelvic pain, heavy bleeding; fatigue; gastrointestinal issues, infertility and more.
The only way of diagnosis is by diagnostic laparoscopy where a small incision is made and the lesions can be seen with the aid of a camera.
We’re here to help and answer all of your questions!
Exercise Physiology can be particularly helpful for patients with Endo due to the fact that generic exercise guidelines may not be applicable and may even cause flare ups. Individualised guidance is vital for patients to be able to manage their symptoms as well as return to an exercise that is tolerated and does not induce flare ups. Even exercise that may seem gentle enough such as pilates can cause an increase in symptoms. Receiving individualised advise from a professional such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) will aim to provide you the opportunity to exercise without pain while also giving you a chance to lengthen and strengthen those muscles affected by your endometriosis.
Our Senior Exercise Physiologist, Leigh-Anne can prescribe exercises that are safe and tailored to your specific needs and abilities.
It is common for sufferers of endometriosis to have pelvic floor overactivity with pain in their lower back and pelvic region. What you may not know is how your endometriosis is affecting the anterior side of your body, including the pelvic floor, abdominal wall, hip flexors and adductors, posture and more.
Luckily, our friends at Exercise Right Australia are here to help explain this:
“The pain and discomfort associated with endometriosis, often described as lower back and pelvic pain, can cause a guarding mechanism within the body – where the body braces to protect itself from pain. This bracing can affect the anterior side of the body, including the pelvic floor, abdominal wall, hip flexors and adductors, as well as affecting posture. Therefore, for people wishing to resume exercise, it’s advantageous to first focus on the lengthening and strengthening of these muscle groups.”
At Coast Sport, we can prescribe specific stretches and exercises that can be used for pain relief, these exercises will focus on the full range of motion of the abdomen muscles, hips and pelvis, which will likely improve relaxation in those areas. In addition, the proper exercise prescription for endometriosis can provide you benefits such as reduced cramping in the pelvic floor and abdomen.
These exercises focus on restoring length to slings of muscles including the pelvic floor that may become shortened due to being in contracted positions. In chronic pain conditions there is an increase in sensitivity to pain and a lower threshold of what can be tolerated. We use education on pain as a tool that is scientifically proven to help to calm the nervous system and help with pain. An example of these tools might be to work with you on your breathing.
Not only will Women’s Health Exercise Physiology help to manage your symptoms of endometriosis, it can give you back the freedom to exercise without pain. Hey! You may even be able to reach a point of pain-free cycles – imagine that?!
We can help with a gradual return to regular physical activity including both aerobic and resistance exercise and this helps to balance the hormone oestrogen that fuels endometriosis along with having an effect on insulin improving blood sugar control and the stress hormone cortisol.
Anxiety and depression can go hand in hand with chronic pain syndromes. We know that exercise has a beneficial effect on boosting serotonin, the mood elevating hormone, but it is knowing what to do and when, as we mentioned earlier, doing too much can also be detrimental.
Endometriosis surgery is common amongst treatment and as an Exercise Physiologists we understand the need for a multidisciplinary approach for patient care. After your surgery we as Accredited Exercise Physiologists work together with other health care practitioners such as your gynaecologist and physiotherapist to assist in your recovery and return to exercise.