Dietary and Lifestyle Considerations
There are many dietary factors that may influence endometriosis risk. Consuming red meat increases the risk of endometriosis, while increased consumption of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (prevalent in fatty, cold-water fish) is associated with a decreased risk of endometriosis (Hansen 2013; Missmer 2010; Smith 2010; Parazzini 2004; Schenken 2012). Women consuming a diet rich in trans fats are also at higher risk of being diagnosed with endometriosis (Smith 2010). Indeed, one study found that women in the upper quintile (upper 20%) of trans-fat consumption had a 48% greater chance of being diagnosed with endometriosis (Missmer 2010). Other foods may also play a role. Increased dairy consumption was associated with a reduced risk of endometriosis in one study. Dairy may also provide vitamin D, and higher predicted vitamin D levels were associated with further reductions in endometriosis risk (Harris 2013). Eating more fruits and vegetables may also play a protective role (Parazzini 2004; Fjerbaek 2007; Schenken 2012).
Endometriosis is a complex disease that can cause debilitating pain and is often difficult to treat. Compounding this problem is that the diagnosis of endometriosis is often slow despite women making multiple trips to their physicians (Huntington 2005). Support groups can be invaluable as they can provide a connection to other women suffering from similar symptoms and provide an opportunity to learn more about the disease and strategies for coping with and treating the symptoms (Kennedy 2005; Whitney 1998; Huntington 2005).