Endo, don't stress me!
The majority of FemXX members report that stress increases their symptoms - and there is research to back these experiences: More stress, more pain. More pain, even more stress - a vicious cycle.
Read what happens in your body when you are stressed to learn what you can do about it.
What is 'stress"?
When we enter a challenging situation, our body mobilizes energy, musters all its strength and prepares for "fight or flight"
Muscle tension & blood pressure increase; heart
beat and breathing go faster;
Digestion is reduced.
Does stress make us sick?
Whether stress harms us depends on the duration of the tension and on our evaluation of the situation.
Are we up for the challenge? Do we feel we have all the resources to react?
If we feel up to the situation, we can accept the challenge.
Stress is transformed into activity. That triggers a positive feeling: we feel active & efficient.
Short stress can be quickly relieved.
Negative & Chronic Stress
If, on the other hand, we do not feel up to the situation, we feel "stressed".
We experience stress as a negative feeling, we are literally "under pressure". If we are stressed over a long period of time, the built-up energies cannot be dissipated and harm our body and mind.
Is there a link between Endo & stress?
In recent years, a number of studies have demonstrated a possible link between high levels of stress and endometriosis.
Endo patients report higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Animal models show that stress increases endometriosis lesion size and severity. Chronic stress increases inflammation, hence may influence Endometriosis symptoms.
Stress causes a chain reaction
Chronic stress triggers a chain of proinflammatory responses and thus may influence the extent of endometriosis.
Increased release of catecholamines (e.g. adrenaline)
Release of inflammatory cells & cell proliferation
Impaired immune responses
The result: Increase in systemic inflammatory activity
Endo & Stress: A vicious cycle
Intense and prolonged stress can increase inflammation. As a result, Endometriosis-associated pain and associated anxiety increase. This in turn causes more stress - and so on...
It is time to break the cycle
"Don't stress yourself" - this advice is just not good enough for people suffering from a chronic disease. Check out our Instagram Interview with psychologist Josefine Jung to learn about stress-coping mechanisms.
Stress & Endo Research:
Patients with endometriosis have higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, and lower quality of life than healthy women. Stress intensity correlates with disease severity, pain intensity, and emotion regulation.
Reis et al. 2019; Appleyard et al., 2020
In animal models, stress has been shown to increase the size and severity of endometrial lesions as well as inflammatory parameters (e.g., colonic inflammation, infiltrating mast cells, inflammatory cells in peritoneal fluid)
Cox et al. 2003; Cuevas et al. 2012
The possibility of using stress management techniques in women with endometriosis as a treatment method to relieve painful symptoms and improve vitality and physical function is thus of great importance
Appleyard et al., 2020; Reis et al., 2019