Dietary Practices of Women with Endometriosis: A Cross-Sectional Survey

J Altern Complement Med. 2021 Sep;27(9):771-777. doi: 10.1089/acm.2021.0068. Epub 2021 Jun 23.

Abstract

Background: Endometriosis causes deleterious effects on the lives of sufferers across multiple domains impacting quality of life. Commonly utilized pharmaceutical interventions offer suboptimal efficacy in addition to potentially intolerable side effects for many women. There is some evidence for dietary therapies reducing endometriosis symptoms, but little data on dietary preferences/strategies used, and their impact, in a community setting. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was conducted between October and December 2017 to investigate the self-management strategies employed by women with endometriosis. Participants were aged 18-45 years, living in Australia, and had a surgically confirmed diagnosis of endometriosis. Results: Four hundred eighty-four responses were included for analysis, with 76% of women reporting the use of general self-management strategies within the last 6 months. Of these, 44% of respondents reported using dietary strategies for symptom management. Reducing or eliminating gluten, reducing or eliminating dairy, and the low-fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAP) diet were the most commonly reported dietary strategies utilized. Respondents reported a 6.4/10 effectiveness score for reduction in pelvic pain with dietary changes, with no difference in pain reduction between the various diets used. Furthermore, women self-reported significant improvements in comorbidities such as gastrointestinal (GI) disturbance (39%), nausea and vomiting (15%), and fatigue (15%). Conclusions: Dietary modifications are a very common self-management strategy employed by people with endometriosis, with the greatest benefit reported on GI symptoms. Reducing or eliminating gluten, dairy, or FODMAPs or a combination of these was the most common strategy. No single diet appeared to provide greater self-reported benefits than others.

Keywords: diet; endometriosis; pelvic pain; self-management.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Endometriosis* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome*
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Quality of Life