What are the triggers that can cause an endometriosis flare?

An endometriosis flare can be caused by different triggers ..... what causes this disease to suddenly flare up really bad and what can you do about it?

Endometriosis flare and how to manage it

Having endometriosis causes many distressing symptoms but there seem to be certain triggers that can make symptoms much worse and can cause a flare up.  An endometriosis flare tends to increase the symptoms of pain with bloating and can also cause nausea, weakness and feeling just awful.

For some an endometriosis flare can be so bad it can mean a trip to A and E.  It is unfortunate that having a flare seems to be quite common and causes added distress and anguish.  A flare can literally stop life in its tracks.

When suffering from endometriosis it can really help to share with other sufferers what makes their symptoms worse, as there can be some common reasons why a flare can happen.  Comparing notes with others can help to relieve some of the stress that can be caused and to know you are not the only one who suffers in such a way.

Sometimes your body can give you clues that a flare may be threatening, like suffering from a nausea attack or feeling feverish.  You need to listen to these clues so you can manage your symptoms better.

Endometriosis flare symptomsFrom endometriosis.net

To give you some idea what causes a flare for others here are a few reports describing what triggers can cause an endometriosis flare.


“Annoyingly, I know that alcohol is a big trigger for me. Sometimes it's immediately and sometimes it comes the next day but basically, I just have to avoid it as much as possible. Other than that, dairy and gluten are big culprits - basically anything that causes inflammation in the bowels.”

“I notice them when I "overdo it". If I do too much physical activity, clean too much for too long, exercise too long, or even too vigorous sexual activity.”

“Getting too hungry, so blood sugar issues”

“Bladder pressure and waiting too long to go to the toilet”

“Stressful situations”

“Definitely sweets or carbs.  everyone’s favourites, right? Anxiety/stress. Sitting on hard surfaces, or even trying to get up from sitting. Oh, and coughing. Coughing or sneezing sets me right off.”

“Dairy, or red meat, or sugar for me”

“Cold weather, holding pee, over eating, not eating enough, not sleeping enough, over exercising, tight clothing, certain foods & drinks, stress, sitting or standing for too long, sex”

“Sugar and alcohol”

“If I get too hungry, I can spend the rest of the day feeling even more sick.”

“Stress, crappy foods & not getting enough sleep”

“Nightshades- peppers, tomatoes, etc”

“Intercourse can cause pain for days”

“Travelling. Working Being unable to lay down and rest my belly. Then it gets angry!”

“Stress, heavy lifting, bread, pasta, insomnia”

“Definitely stress and certain foods trigger my endo”

“I have been managing my pain really well until I went through a really stressful time and I’ve been having flare up after flare up.”

“I also really notice a correlation between high stress levels and increased pain, and then the increased pain makes me more tired and stressed so it’s just a vicious cycle!”

“Stress does aggravate symptoms. Poor diet, poor sleep, lack of movement.. they all contribute.”

“Stress is amazingly bad for your body in every way, not just as relates to endometriosis. I've been rushed to hospital with chest pains that turned out to be stress.”

“Red meat, junk food, weight gain, lack of exercise.”

“Lack of sleep, tight waist bands or knickers, stress, constipation”

“Insomnia/Lack of sleep, Stress and Bad Unhealthy food....”

 “I stopped eating soy and it got so much better. It definitely gets worse when I eat soy”

“Junk food, alcohol and sugar”

“Stress, fatigue, particular foods eg dairy & gluten”

“I have some kind of symptom everyday but "flares" can seem to be really quite random but most of the time when I think about it, I realise oh I'm ovulating/due on/had a stressful time or over done it"

This is the tip of the iceberg of what it is like to develop an endometriosis flare. These feedback comments come from social media - which is a great place to get support and advice from others.


Resting on an endometriosis flare day

You can see there are many common issues that can cause a flare, especially eating the wrong foods, stress and doing too much physically. Poor sleep is another trigger, which really adds insult to injury as sleep is the time the body does most of its repairing.

When I had endometriosis the cause of my own flare attacks took a while to figure what caused them, but I eventually learnt that eating the wrong foods and stress were major triggers for me.

There are certain self help measures you can take to help you deal with a flare if it is not too serious and you can manage it at home.

  • TENS machine –  a TENS machine can help with abdominal pain.  If you have lower back pain then a TENS will help this too
  • Heating pad – like a TENS machine a heating pad can help with abdominal pain
  • Epsom salts bath – a soak in a hot Epsom salts bath can help to relax you and can help with muscle pain.  You can also add some calming essential oils to help relax you
  • Peppermint tea – this tea is really good for abdominal pain, digestive upset and nausea
  • CBD oil – can help with physical pain as well as anxiety
  • Diet management – find out what foods trigger your symptoms and you can then omit them from your diet. An anti-inflammatory diet will help reduce symptoms
  • Castor oil packs – a castor oil pack on the abdomen can really help with pain and inflammation – many with endometriosis are finding castor oil packs really helpful – more details about them are HERE
  • Stress management – try using meditation or yoga to help manage your stress
  • Loose clothing – make sure you are not causing more distress by wearing any tight clothing
  • Pain meds – it may be necessary to use pain medication but use with caution as they can stress the liver and can eventually loose their benefit
  • Herb teas – there are many herbal teas that can help with different symptoms.  Chamomile tea is soothing for the gut and is calming.  You can find a few herb tea recipes to help with endometriosis HERE
  • Omega 3 oils – make sure your diet includes plenty of omega 3 oils or you can use supplement.  Omega 3 oils help to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Delegate – make sure you get support and help when you need it.  Get some help with meal preparation, shopping, household chores
  • Rest – resting and taking things easy will calm your system and calm your central nervous system and in turn will help your body to calm down
  • Sleep – endometriosis is renowned for causing insomnia and this can be caused for various reasons including pain and hormonal upset.  There are certain herbs you can take that can help with insomnia as well as pain.  

These are just some of the things you can do to help you manage and get through a flare attack. You may have to experiment what works best for you as we are all different, but do not give up -  you will eventually find what works best to help you and what you should avoid.


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About the Author

My name is Carolyn Levett, the Founder of endo-resolved - I am an Integrative Health Coach having studied nutrition, naturopathy, aromatherapy  as well as being a published author. I used to suffer from severe endometriosis and was able to regained my health and heal from the disease with the support of nutrition and natural therapies.

My motivation is to help other women with endometriosis to heal their bodies so they may overcome this awful disease without having to rely on toxic drugs and surgeries which can cause further damage  -  with healing thoughts, Carolyn.

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