Is there a cure for endometriosis?
No. Surgery is the nearest thing to a cure. Everything else is just symptom management or nonsense. Sorry!
Who are you to say there’s no cure for it?
I’m Emma, I have stage 4 endometriosis, and I explain things about endometriosis for sufferers and their loved ones. I experience a lot of pain with it, and my pain tolerance is now ridiculously high. That doesn’t mean I’m fine, it means I’ve learned how to cope with it, and I hope that you are able to do that too. But first, you need to accept that all of these “cures” are silly nonsense.
We all want to think there’s a cure, and that’s how we can end up wasting time and money, and listening to total nonsense trying to find one. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt – but you don’t have to.
“There’s no cure for endometriosis and it can be difficult to treat. Treatment aims to ease symptoms so the condition does not interfere with your daily life.” (NHS 2019)
If you’re an endo sufferer then I’m sure you’ve heard all sorts of ridiculous cures for endometriosis and had lots of unsolicited advice about it. People usually mean well, but let’s face it – on this subject they’re talking rubbish most of the time. They’re often trying to be helpful, but you just can’t remove endo tissue from your insides with essential oils, crystals, diet, massage, yoga, or a positive attitude.
I’ve made a list of my favourite stupid “cures” and explained in depth why they are such utter rubbish.
Does pregnancy cure endometriosis?
Nope. Absolutely not. Doesn’t stop doctors from recommending it to young women though. A research paper recently published by Monash University explores information given from doctors to women with endometriosis.
I was told at age 21 and 27 years old to have a baby to ease my symptoms. It wasn’t for me at the time. The only reason to have a baby is because you want to have a baby – not because you want to be symptom-free for a short period of time.
“Endometriosis is a potentially chronic condition and current approaches do not cure endometriosis. The hormones released when pregnant temporarily suppress the menstrual cycle – which can alleviate symptoms.” (Endometriosis UK)
Also – pregnancy cures endometriosis? Stop. Just think about what you are saying. The disease that causes infertility can be cured by pregnancy? Does that sound like a sensible thing to say to a person in severe pain?
Can you get pregnant with endometriosis?
Yes, absolutely. Many women with endo have children, and while symptoms ease during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s not a cure and the symptoms can come back.
“An estimated 70% of women with mild to moderate endometriosis will get pregnant without treatment.” (Tommy’s 2020)
Then there’s the rest of us, for whom “Why don’t you try getting pregnant and see if that helps?” cuts like a knife. Endometriosis has robbed us of our fertility. We spend thousands of pounds on IVF to no avail. It’s rude AF to tell a woman who actually CAN get pregnant to get pregnant for the wrong reason. It’s triple-dipped, gold-plated rude AF with a cherry on top, to say that to women who can’t.
For the record, I have been pregnant (my sixth IVF was successful), however, it ended at 20 weeks. In the seven months that followed, I experienced my worst endo symptoms to date. So no, from my own, personal experience, pregnancy doesn’t cure endometriosis. Most alarmingly, doctors still suggest this is a suitable fix. It’s impractical and upsetting advice. Please can we stop using pregnancy as a cure for endometriosis, as it’s just so wrong on so many levels.
“Women with endometriosis who are trying to conceive should not be offered hormonal treatment, because it does not improve spontaneous pregnancy rates.” (NICE 2021)
Can surgery cure endometriosis?
Don’t even get me started on the endless messing about that comes with even getting a diagnosis. I can understand people thinking that surgery might cure endo permanently because problems like tumours and hernias and so on are often cured by surgery in a one-time-only deal. Many women with suspected endo plead with surgeons to undergo a laparoscopy, with the hope that it will relieve their pain. While a formal diagnosis can offer peace of mind, sadly surgery will not actually cure endometriosis. As in, take it away permanently. Endo is just the gift that keeps on giving isn’t it?
Surgery can offer relief from pain, especially if endometriomas, ovarian cysts and endo are removed, but for many, it’s a temporary fix. For severe cases, laparoscopies may need to be repeated every couple of years or sooner.
“‘The pain is paralysing’: 30 women describe living with endometriosis” (Guardian News 2015)
On more than one occasion I’ve had people assume I am fixed after my surgery. I’ll admit, after my first surgery I thought I was cured too. However, endo soon crept back, entangling itself around my ovaries, fallopian tubes and organs once more. After three surgeries, I am still not cured, and indeed, I do need another surgery soon.
Will a hysterectomy cure my endometriosis?
Ah, a hysterectomy, the end goal for most endo sufferers. Not exactly a nonsense cure, but people do assume that more womb = more problems, to paraphrase that famous rap song. It’s not quite that simple.
A full hysterectomy can make a huge improvement to quality of life, but like most endo treatments it comes with its risks. Surgeons are reluctant to remove ovaries as they play a pivotal role in bone density and health. Therefore, removing only the womb can occasionally mean endometriosis finds its way back to the ovaries causing pain once again. A hysterectomy is more commonly offered to sufferers of adenomyosis.
I have been offered a hysterectomy, but to remove my womb, I’ll also require bowel reconstruction, potentially lose a part of my bladder and may have nerve damage, which would lead to new health problems. So, for the moment, I will take the pain until I crack.
Can diet cure endometriosis?
Oh, the wonders of Dr Google. I’ve lost count of how many people have reached out to me about a miracle diet that will cure my endometriosis. Keep your kale salad, Becky, food is not medicine for me, and endometriosis is incurable. Once again for the people at the back – you can’t cure endo with diet. If it could be done I would have done it.
As far as I’m concerned, no diet will cure your endo, but that’s not to say certain diets won’t be beneficial. Some foods can trigger an attack. Some foods will be safe for you to eat because they won’t set it off. Click here for my advice on diets and endometriosis.
Can exercise cure endometriosis?
Please stop telling me yoga will cure all my problems! It’s easy to feel guilty about exercise or lack of, as an endo sufferer. It’s hard to stick to a routine when you can’t get out of bed for a week.
Click here to see a list I made of the ridiculous and hurtful things people have said to me about endometriosis and illustrated each one with a cute yet grumpy animal.
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it doesn’t cure a chronic illness. Whether you run 20 miles a day or one, neither will cure endo. The same goes for yoga, pilates, boxing, swimming, unicorn racing, underwater bowling or a yoga class on the moon. Learning your limits and exercising when you are able to, is a far healthier approach.
Can meditation cure endometriosis?
Breathe…and relax. Is that it? Am I cured? I’m a firm believer that mindset is everything, but I am under no illusion that meditation will cure my endometriosis. It might stop you from screaming at people who try to sell you crystals though.
Learning breathing techniques for stress and pain management can be hugely beneficial. I’ve actually learnt how to enjoy my pain (disclaimer: I am in a lot more pain than a lot of people, so that may sound odd to you, but it’s just my way of coping) or maybe I’ve just got used to it, I’m not sure. But no, meditation will not cure endometriosis. For that matter, neither will crystals or herbs.
Can acupuncture cure endometriosis?
Are you sensing a theme to this post? No, it won’t. Have I tried it? Yes. Did it cure me? No. Did it help me get pregnant? No. Did it drain my bank balance, because I was so desperate to be ok and have a baby that I gave someone money to stick pins in me? Yes. I took one for the team there, so that you don’t have to. It doesn’t work on endo. Buy yourself a handbag or something instead.
I’m not completely raining on your acupuncture parade, however. Like so many alternative therapies, what works for some may not work for others. Acupuncture certainly has its benefits for some people, but to suggest it can cure a debilitating condition, that can’t even be cured by surgery, is ignorant. Try it for symptom management, it might work for you, but don’t expect it to cure you.
Will simply forgetting about it cure endometriosis?
Oh shut up. Believing a disease can be cured by forgetting about it is a ridiculous notion. It’s hurtful and unhelpful. Just because you can’t see endometriosis and a sufferer may not look sick, it doesn’t mean it can be forgotten. Would you advise someone with their leg hanging off to just forget about it? Absolutely no one in chronic pain has ever gotten better by simply forgetting about it.
But I thought you said you’d learned to handle pain better?
I have learned to change my mindset regarding pain. I believe I now have a different way of looking at it to most people – including the well-meaning hippies who tell me it’s all in the mind. I do believe that dwelling on pain and unfortunate circumstances is not the answer. I am currently undergoing my own little experiment to see how mindset can improve endometriosis and fertility. Stay tuned!
These are Emma’s personal views, and they’re 100% valid, but it’s important to note that not everyone has the same experience of endometriosis! Another contributor feels that diet has actually cured her of all symptoms, while others swear by different methods. We’re following up all of the different views and opinions, to help you to find the best answers for you!