My Guide to a Flare-Up
This toolbox is suitable for people with varying levels of pain from manageable to disabling
and is based on my lived experience. This is specifically targeted at those with endometriosis,
adenomyosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and similarly related gynaecological
I wish I could provide you with some mind-bending revolutionary answers to all your flare-
up problems here. The magical answer that anyone with a pelvic-related chronic illness has been looking for. Honey, if I could wave a magic wand, do a little dance and make your pain
go away, or invent a single-dose miracle pill with no side effects, believe me, I would.
Instead, I'm just a fellow chronically ill human, in the middle of a hefty flare-up herself, with
a few tips that I find useful to help get me through.
Don't be afraid to medicate
Doctors prescribe us medication for a reason and there is no shame in reaching for those
heavier doses or stronger drugs when you need them. No one else can tell you to take them
or tell you how bad your pain is, but you aren't cheating or failing by starting here. In fact, it
can be a brilliant tool to help you get back on your feet and comfortable.
Don't Forget to Breathe
If you find yourself on the bathroom floor doubled over in pain and home alone, unable to
get to your medication, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to breathe. Close your
eyes, and focus on your breath. Slow your breathing right down by using some breath
techniques, my favourite is the following: breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds, hold
for 5 seconds, and breathe out through your mouth for 5 seconds. Ideally is 10 seconds, but
mid flare you aren't likely going to be able to achieve that!
Reach for natural pain relief
When you have things under control and you are in a comfortable position, grab a wheat
bag or fit a Tens device such as Tap 2.0... or both! Wrap the wheat bag around your hip
where the worst pain is or across the front, and fit your Tap 2.0 as per the instruction leaflet to best target the most painful areas. Don't go straight to a high setting either, be gentle with yourself.
REST AND RELAX
Pain uses a lot more energy than we realise and your body will need additional rest and
sleep to recover and get through this. So put on those comfy pants, take some magnesium,
make a hot cup of something, and get comfortable on the couch with a good bit of reading
material or your fave TV show. Maybe grab some knitting, a puzzle, or something tactile you
can physically do with your hands. Not only does this distract the brain from the pain, but
there is also lots of evidence-based research on the topic showing that it releases dopamine
and contributes to stress relief. Have an early night and sleep in if possible. Another great way to assist your body in relaxing is to grab some essential oils to sniff or rub into your
pressure points. A few drops of lavender in the bottom of a hot shower or some peppermint
oil on your wrists can make a huge difference by activating part of your brain to release
serotonin and dopamine. They won't cure your endometriosis but can assist in putting you
in a state of relaxation.
Remember to hydrate
It doesn't have to be water, but it really shouldn't be alcohol or fizzy! I try to lose the booze and opt for something containing terpenes. Drinking carbonated beverages just adds extra gas to your gut making you bloat more. I tend to crave ginger beer when I am in a flare but always regret it due to the bubbles. Instead, opt for something like electrolyte drinks to help hydrate your body whilst it's expending extra energy dealing with pain and keep your gut
If you are flaring you are either going to be craving something ridiculously badly or have no appetite at all... there seems to be no in-between! So make sure to keep eating and when
you do that it's nourishing, gentle, easy-to-digest food. Your gut is right next to your pelvic
organs, and there is a direct link between the two areas. When one area is in pain you are
likely to feel symptoms in the other if you have endometriosis. So whilst yes, your craving
will generally be indicating something your body is needing - stop and think and try to break
it down a little bit further. You are craving chocolate hugely... could it be that you need
calcium? Perhaps natural sugars/electrolytes? Don't deny yourself that piece of chocolate
but try to supplement it by following up with something a little more mindful that your body
will gain more nutrition and long releasing energy from.
Streeeeeetch it out
When the worst is over, try a few gentle stretches that stretch out the tummy and pelvic
area to encourage your muscles to release and stop spasming. Youtube is a wealth of
information when it comes to this - so have a quick look and find a 2-minute gentle stretch
that you can follow along. remember not to push yourself and work to your level. You are
aiming for a gentle stretch, not trying to become a yoga master by twisting yourself into a
pretzel. You don't want to add additional stress to your pelvic area!
Remember the above are just a guideline, not an order. You know your body best, and you
know what you are capable of at different stages of a flare-up. The key is to be gentle and
kind with yourself, and let all those frustrated emotions wash over you, not being ashamed
to ask for help and support. If the pain is bad enough, please seek urgent medical attention
or call an ambulance to get access to the relief you need. That's what they are there for.
A huge thank you to Ellen for coming on to Bloody Good to share such great tips!