How Might Nutrition Affect Endometriosis?

How Might Nutrition Affect Endometriosis?

If you have endometriosis, you have likely felt an impact on your productivity, mental health, and overall quality of life at certain times. Endometriosis treatments have remained limited, which has left many feeling hopeless and lost in managing their condition. 

Fortunately, researchers have discovered that nutrition may help. During an In Conversation podcast episode, Dr. Hana Kahleova, director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and Hannah Alderson, a registered nutritionist with the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT), discuss endometriosis in-depth, including dietary changes that may help relieve symptoms.*

What is endometriosis? 

Endometriosis occurs when the endometrial tissue lining the inside of the uterus grows in other parts of the body. It often affects nearby organs such as the fallopian tubes, bladder, and intestines. 

Endometriosis is associated with uncomfortable and painful symptoms including:

  • Long menstrual periods (greater than seven days)
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Excruciatingly painful cramps that may cause a person to faint
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Pain during and after sex with vaginal penetration
  • Fatigue
  • Spotting between periods

Current treatments include excision surgery and/or medication, but they are not always effective. In recent years, researchers have investigated lifestyle factors more, and have learned that nutrition may help better manage endometriosis. 

What foods may hurt endometriosis?

Since nutrition has the potential to influence all parts of our health, it is no surprise that what you eat may affect your endometriosis symptoms. 

Studies have found several dietary items to be negatively linked to endometriosis, where they heighten the risk of endometriosis and/or contribute to symptom severity. These include:

  • Trans fat, which is a result of the food manufacturing process and is often found in fried and ultra-processed foods
  • Red meat such as beef and pork
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy products

What foods may help endometriosis? 

On the other hand, researchers believe these foods may help to manage endometriosis: 

  • Sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, seaweed, and nuts
  • Fruits and vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables and legumes
  • Dietary supplements that included vitamins C and E, minerals, omega-3, turmeric, and ginger

According to Dr. Kahleova, consuming more of these foods can offset inflammation, which plays a role in endometriosis. Following an anti-inflammatory diet may help to create an environment where endometriosis is unable to thrive. 

Why is more research needed? 

Both Alderson and Dr. Kahleova stress the need for more research when it comes to nutrition and endometriosis. Existing studies are not in agreement about which foods are linked to endometriosis development and relief, and why. “It is so complex [a condition],” Alderson says, “and it’s very different for [individual] women. I think the complexity of it does make it difficult [to understand].”

A diet that supports anti-inflammation will likely benefit your overall health, but it’s best to discuss the pros and cons of making dietary changes with your doctor before taking action. 

*Cohut, M. (2023, March 24). In Conversation: How diet may help with endometriosis. Medical News Today. Retrieved April 29, 2023, from


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