Managing the pain from Endometriosis can be difficult. We spoke to Jess Duffin, Endo Warrior and founder of This EndoLife, about her top tips for managing an endometriosis flare up, to help you still enjoy the festive period if you have an endo flare up.
One of the main symptoms of Endometriosis is severe pain that can feel like a stabbing, agonizing and shooting pain. Sufferers describe how the pain can make them struggle to walk, vomit and pass out. The pain varies from person to person, but there are some natural ways that can make it more manageable. Jess gives tips that have helped her manage her Endo flare-ups.
“Endometriosis is a complicated disease that manifests differently in different people and can also react differently to treatment. There’s no one size fits all way of managing symptoms. But here is what I’ve found from my personal experience:
Know your triggers
I’ve personally found lots of relief from changing my diet (I’m aware this isn’t the case for everyone). However, you might recognise that your symptoms get worse when you eat or drink certain foods. I eat quite a specific diet, but a few of my key triggers are sugar, gluten, dairy and caffeine. I know that during my period, a coffee can have me doubled over within 30 minutes. Likewise, at Christmas, I know if I eat through half a tin of Quality Streets, I’m going to feel it later.
This doesn’t mean I don’t indulge at Christmas! It just means I’m a bit more mindful of how I do it. I might skip having tea and coffee but will have some dessert and chocolates because that’s what I want the most. I also make sure I bring along food I know I’m going to have less of a reaction to, so I can eat and enjoy like everyone else. This does mean I have to start prepping beforehand. I usually eat a different main and dessert from my family, but I make enough that we can all share and tuck in.
If you’re not sure of your triggers and you get a flare up on Christmas day, notice if your pain gets worse at certain points and after any particular foods. You can then maybe try to reduce that particular food group in the future to see if your pain eases. For more tips on endometriosis and diet, I love Take Control of Your Endometriosis.
Whilst having a flare up at Christmas obviously sucks, there are some benefits of it falling at this time of year. Christmas is the time where it’s acceptable to stay in your PJs for a large portion of the day, trouser buttons are undone and pretty much everyone looks like they have a bad case of the endo bloat. Comfort is so important when it comes to an endometriosis flare, so if you can get away with wearing your checked Christmas PJs – go for it!
If you do actually need to get dressed for the day, then prepare something that’s comfortable in advance. You can’t predict an endo flare but you can have a backup outfit. Cute baggy jumpers, leggings, long loose dresses and stretchy trousers (hello ribbed knits) all take some of the pressure off your pelvic area and can also help you feel less self-conscious.
Unlike summer, it’s the season for getting snuggled up in comfy clothes. So, if you do want to keep your flare to yourself, your outfit won’t look out of place.
Embrace the festive spirit
Again, it’s horrible having an endo flare full stop, let alone at Christmas. But, there are some ways to take advantage of this magical time of year. Firstly – movies. Whether it’s the lead up to Christmas and you’d planned to see your friends or it’s the big day itself, Christmas movies offer you something to do that’s both endo-friendly and festive. There are loads of pop-up cinemas at this time of year, and Christmas day will be packed with Christmas specials and films on TV for you and your family to cosy up in front of.
If you can’t make it out of the house and have to cancel your plans to go out, maybe have your friends over for a Christmassy night in? Ask them to bring some games (ones that you can sit down for!), snacks and their favourite films.
If you are feeling able to get out of the house, but you’re not up for going crazy, Christmas concerts are always such a lovely way to spend an evening. There are so many around in the weeks beforehand! Have a look at sites like Time Out or your local papers to find out what’s on near you.
Because I’ve found an endometriosis management method that works for me, I don’t really get troubled by my symptoms except when I’m on my period. The pain that comes along on my period is also now very low, and I can usually use a few go-to tools to get rid of it – but I’m always prepared, just in case it’s a bad month.
In the lead up to my period, I carry my pain management go-tos everywhere. I even have a little bag I store them in on the move and a drawer dedicated to them at home. If you have some tools that you know work for you, or at least help a little bit, create a little emergency tool kit in case a flare does arrive. Take it with you throughout all your Christmas travels.
We’re all really different, but I love magnesium spray (it helps to calm my cramps almost instantly), Forage Botanicals’ New Moon Belly Balm, BeYou period patches, Hug wrap around heat pack and a TENS machine (clearly not all at once!).
Let people know
Endometriosis is a disease that many of us suffer with in silence. I know it’s difficult at Christmas time, when you’re surrounded by lots of people and everyone is in the festive mood. But, is there even one person you can seek support from? Big family and friend get-togethers can sometimes mean differing opinions. If you don’t want your whole family to know what you’re experiencing, or you’re worried about the Auntie who always thinks you’re exaggerating, it can be helpful to have someone in your corner who’s quietly rooting for you.
When you have that someone, they can be there to persuade others to settle down with a chilled movie. They can gently steer you away from anyone who’s trying to drag you up to dance or hand out that third round of mince pies. They can also be there to fill up your hot wattle bottle and make you hot drinks!
Thanks so much to Jess for this informative blog! You can follow Jess on Instagram here for lots of useful content. Do you have any tips for how you manage an Endometriosis flare up? Let us know in the comments below or let us know on socials @totmorganic.