When going through a bad endometriosis flare or a day of severe pain, the only thing I would want to do is curl up in a ball in my bed. However, during some of my worst days of pain and bleeding my life was too busy to lay in bed all day – just as my life is today as a medical student.
Even though it wasn’t always my first intuition to get up and move around when I was suffering, every time I did I noticed it helped my pain. In high school and college as a student athlete, I had daily workouts and practices worked into my schedule. Waking up at 6am to get to lifting at 7am when I was bleeding uncontrollably and doubled over in pain was not always easy. I had to remind myself that as long as I made it there and started moving, my body might feel better – and most times it really did! Because of this I am definitely an advocate for using other outlets such as sports, exercise, or any physical activity to manage endometriosis related pain and symptoms.
Today I am no longer a competitive athlete, and I no longer have lifts or volleyball practices scheduled into my day to day anymore. It has definitely been a transition going from playing a sport for 10 years of my life and being a student-athlete who played volleyball almost every single day, to now being primarily a student. My life as a medical student is very busy. Some days it can feel impossible to complete my daily tasks and studying let alone dedicate an hour or so to exercising. This is something I have been working on lately – making exercise a regular part of my life again. I have always loved sports and in college developed a passion for lifting (although I was never able to lift heavy in comparison to others haha). Still, I have been missing this part of myself for the last few months while working towards becoming a doctor. Within the last couple of weeks, I ran my first 5K and have even lifted a few times too! So as my first year of medical school draws to a close, I’m going to keep setting small fitness goals for myself in order to work exercise back into my life.
Though it certainly is not a cure for endometriosis, there have been many correlations between regular exercise and improvement of endometriosis symptoms. Exercise in any form including athletics, running, walking, lifting, yoga, etc. can boost mood, relieve pain, and strengthen the pelvic floor. Exercise in general is good for you and makes the body feel better overall. Although it may not be targeting the endometriosis directly, I think that by taking care of ourselves as a whole, we can improve our lives and well-being while living with endometriosis.