Natural Treatments for Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a chronic, often painful condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus (called the endometrium) starts growing outside the uterus. Most commonly, the growth is on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or the pelvic lining, but in some cases, it can also spread outside the pelvic area.

Approximately 4 million women in the United States have been diagnosed with endometriosis. However, it is estimated that 6 of 10 endometriosis cases are undiagnosed, which means that more than 6 million American women may experience endometriosis without understanding the cause of their symptoms or receiving appropriate management.

endometriosis signs and symptoms
Illustration by Emily Roberts, Verywell

Signs and Symptoms

Endometriosis can cause:

  • Painful periods, including pelvic pain and cramping during menstruation. It may begin before and continue for several days after the onset of your monthly period. The pain can also occur in the lower abdomen or low back. It has even been known to cause shooting nerve pain in the legs, called sciatica.
  • Sharp, deep pain during ovulation, sexual intercourse, bowel movements, and/or urination
  • Heavy menstrual periods or bleeding in between periods
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
  • Infertility. Endometriosis can cause adhesions that trap the egg.

Natural Treatments

If you are experiencing painful periods or pelvic pain, it's important to see your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Here are some natural treatments that are used for endometriosis.

Scientific support is lacking so far for claims that any form of alternative medicine can treat endometriosis safely and effectively.

Reduce Chemical Intake

Some studies suggest that chronic exposure to the environmental chemicals dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is associated with an increased prevalence and severity of endometriosis.

One way to reduce the intake of these chemicals is to cut back on animal fat, especially high-fat dairy, red meat, and fish. Dioxin and PCBs both accumulate in animal fat, and it is our main route of exposure.

Several studies show that red meat is a risk factor for endometriosis, while fresh fruit and vegetables were associated with a reduction in risk.

Vegetables and Flaxseeds

There is some evidence that a group of plant chemicals called flavones may inhibit aromatase, the enzyme that converts androgens to estrogens. Good food sources of flavones are celery and parsley. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy contain compounds called indoles, which appear to improve estrogen metabolism. Flaxseeds are high in lignans and fiber, which have been found to be beneficial for estrogen-related conditions.

Progesterone Cream

Alternative practitioners sometimes recommend progesterone cream. Progesterone is thought to slow the growth of abnormal endometrial tissue. Although it's not considered a cure, it may improve symptoms such as pain during menstrual periods and pelvic pain. There haven't been any studies on progesterone cream for endometriosis, so we don't know for certain about its effectiveness or safety.

Progesterone cream is derived from either soy or Mexican wild yam. A molecule called diosgenin is extracted in a lab and converted to a molecule that's exactly like human progesterone and added to back to the cream. Some companies sell wild yam cream, but unless it has been converted in a lab it is useless because the body can't convert wild yam to progesterone on its own.

Natural progesterone cream is applied to the wrists, inner arms, inner thighs, or upper chest at a dose and schedule that should be recommended by a professional.

It's important to be supervised and to have progesterone levels monitored on lab tests because too much progesterone can cause such side effects as mood changes, depression, water retention, weight gain, and absent or abnormal menstrual bleeding. If you're considering it, consult your doctor first.

Natural progesterone cream is available from a compounding pharmacy or at some regular drug stores.

Talk to your doctor before using progesterone cream as it can have many side effects. There are no studies on its safety and effectiveness for endometriosis.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. They are also available in fish oil capsules, which may be the preferable form because good brands contain minimal amounts of PCBs and dioxins.

Prostaglandins are complex natural fatty acids derived from dietary sources. They are responsible for painful menstrual cramps and the pain during endometriosis. A change in diet can change the level and types of prostaglandins in the body. The diet to treat endometriosis is aimed to block the prostaglandins having negative effects on the body and increase the levels of prostaglandins that have positive effects. Omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for the production of good prostaglandins. Fatty acids that stimulate the production of bad prostaglandins are found in saturated fats, animal fats, and butter.

Stress Reduction

Women with endometriosis experience significant stress, and when the body is placed under stress, it secretes cortisol. Prolonged stress can lead to elevations in cortisol, which alternative practitioners say may decrease the available progesterone and result in a hormonal imbalance.

Herbs and nutrients that alternative practitioners commonly recommend for stress reduction include:

  • Ashwagandha
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium

Other stress reduction methods include:

  • Relaxation response
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Diaphragmatic breathing

Hydrotherapy

A contrast sitz bath is often recommended by alternative practitioners for endometriosis. It is a home remedy and has not been studied.

A contrast sitz bath involves sitting in a small basin or tub filled with hot water for three minutes, then getting up and sitting in another basin filled with cool water for one minute. The hot water cold water cycle is repeated another 3 times. It is not usually done during menstruation.

Ginger Tea

Ginger tea may relieve nausea that can occur with endometriosis.

Alternative Medicine

Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label.

Also, keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

If you're considering the use of alternative medicine, talk with your primary care provider first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. Our Doctor Discussion Guide below can help you talk to your doctor to clarify any questions you may have.

Endometriosis Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Doctor Discussion Guide Woman
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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Endometriosis Foundation of America. Endometriosis Symptoms.

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  4. Buggio L, Barbara G, Facchin F, Frattaruolo MP, Aimi G, Berlanda N. Self-management and psychological-sexological interventions in patients with endometriosis: strategies, outcomes, and integration into clinical care. Int J Womens Health. 2017;9:281-293. doi:10.2147/IJWH.S119724

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  6. Cuevas M, Flores I, Thompson KJ, Ramos-ortolaza DL, Torres-reveron A, Appleyard CB. Stress exacerbates endometriosis manifestations and inflammatory parameters in an animal model. Reprod Sci. 2012;19(8):851-62. doi:10.1177/1933719112438443

  7. Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Endometriosis.

Additional Reading