Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that resembles the lining of your uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside of your uterus. It’s estimated to impact 10 to 15 percent of women of reproductive age.

Pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis. You might experience it in a variety of ways, including:

  • chronic pelvic pain
  • painful menstrual cramps
  • pain after sex

It’s also common for endometriosis to cause a variety of digestive symptoms. One of these is nausea. If you have endometriosis, you may notice that nausea is particularly common during your period or after eating.

Continue reading to learn more about the link between nausea and endometriosis, what you can do about it, and when to contact a doctor.

Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are common in people with endometriosis. In fact, some research has found that GI symptoms are almost as common as gynecological symptoms, with 90 percent of study participants reporting some type of GI symptom.

Medical experts are not sure exactly how endometriosis may lead to nausea. But understanding what’s happening in your body due to endometriosis can provide some important insight.

With endometriosis, your endometrial-like tissue grows where it’s not supposed to in your body. This can cause a variety of problems in your body like inflammation and the formation of scar tissue, particularly adhesions.

The location of endometriosis lesions may also impact your symptoms. For example, one 2015 study found that endometriosis lesions on or near a person’s bowel were associated with nausea and vomiting.

But GI symptoms can happen even if endometriosis does not directly affect your bowel. A 2009 study found that only 7.5 percent of participants with GI symptoms had bowel endometriosis.

Nausea during your period

If you have endometriosis and nausea, you may notice that your nausea gets worse during your period. There are several reasons for this.

First, endometriosis lesions still behave in the same way as your uterine lining. This means that during your period, these lesions can swell and bleed as well.

But unlike your uterine lining, tissue from endometriosis lesions cannot leave your body during your period. This can cause pain and discomfort. If endometriosis lesions are close to your GI tract, they can also contribute to nausea or vomiting.

Increased levels of prostaglandins during your period can play a role as well. Prostaglandins are compounds made of fats that have hormone-like effects in your body. They can cause your uterus to contract (tighten) in order to get rid of the thickened uterine lining.

These contractions can cause painful menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), which are often severe in people with endometriosis.

Discomfort from dysmenorrhea can contribute to feelings of nausea. High levels of prostaglandins can enter your bloodstream, which can also lead to nausea.

Nausea after eating

If you have endometriosis, you may also experience increased nausea after eating. There are a couple of reasons why this may happen.

Endometriosis is associated with other digestive symptoms, particularly bloating. Bloating can happen after a meal as your body works to digest food. This can cause feelings of discomfort or pain. Intense pain can sometimes lead to nausea.

Additionally, endometriosis lesions on your bowel may cause obstruction of your GI tract. This can potentially lead to GI symptoms like nausea. But bowel endometriosis is relatively rare, affecting 5 to 12 percent of people with endometriosis.

In general, you can treat nausea due to endometriosis in the same way as other causes of nausea. You may want to try some of the tips below to ease your nausea:

  • Eat bland foods. Until your nausea goes away, try to focus on eating bland foods. A few examples of bland foods include white rice, bananas, and unseasoned skinless chicken.
  • Take anti-nausea medications. Medications to ease nausea are available over the counter. A couple examples include Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate.
  • Stay upright. Keeping yourself upright can aid in digestion and may help nausea pass. Try to avoid motions that compress your abdomen, like bending over.
  • Try ginger. Some research has suggested that ginger may be helpful for mild nausea as well as for menstrual cramps. You may want to try sipping ginger tea while you’re nauseous.
  • Consider peppermint. Some research suggests that peppermint may help with nausea during pregnancy or after surgery. You may want to consider trying peppermint aromatherapy or drinking peppermint tea.
  • Stay hydrated. Nausea can sometimes lead to vomiting, which can cause dehydration. This is why it’s important to stay hydrated. If it’s hard to keep fluids down, try taking regular, small sips of water.
  • Distract yourself. Activities like reading a book, watching TV, or listening to music may help take your mind off of your nausea.
  • Get fresh air. Breathing in some fresh air may also help ease feelings of nausea. Try opening a window or going outside until you start to feel better.

Medical professionals often suggest medications to prevent or reduce the symptoms of endometriosis. Taking your endometriosis medications as your doctor directed may help to ease feelings of nausea.

Examples of endometriosis medications include:

  • Hormonal contraceptives. Birth control medication can include oral contraceptive pills and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs).
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists. This type of medication can create a temporary state of menopause by stopping the hormones involved in ovulation and the menstrual cycle.

In addition to medications, there are also some lifestyle-related changes you can make that may help prevent nausea.

Adjust your diet

Healthcare experts are still researching how exactly your diet impacts endometriosis risk and progression. But it’s possible that some foods may influence this condition.

A 2021 study surveyed 484 women with endometriosis about their symptom management strategies. It found that 44 percent of respondents used dietary changes to help with their symptoms, with 15 percent reporting an improvement in nausea and vomiting.

Adding or eliminating certain foods from your diet may help reduce some endometriosis symptoms. Examples of foods to add to your diet include:

The types of foods you may want to cut back on include:

Change how you eat

Modifying your eating habits may also help prevent nausea. Some examples of how to do this include:

  • consuming smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day
  • not eating too quickly
  • avoiding foods associated with nausea, such as foods that are:
    • warm or hot in temperature
    • strong-smelling
    • spicy
    • greasy or fried

Consider posture and clothing

Your posture and clothing may also influence your nausea symptoms.

If you often feel bloated or nauseous after eating, avoid doing things that strain or place pressure on your abdomen. For example, try not to lie down, bend over, or perform strenuous activities shortly after eating.

Also, avoid wearing clothing that fits too tightly against your waist or abdomen. Instead, try to wear looser fitting garments that do not cut into you.

If you have endometriosis and nausea, consider making an appointment with your doctor if you have:

  • very frequent or long-lasting episodes of nausea
  • nausea that happens with severe abdominal pain
  • nausea that impacts your ability to get adequate nutrition or results in noticeable weight loss
  • vomiting that lasts longer than a couple days or causes signs of dehydration

If you’re taking medications for endometriosis, but they’re not helping to alleviate your symptoms, talk with your doctor. They may be able to adjust your dosage or switch you to another medication.

When medications and lifestyle changes are not effective

If your symptoms are severe and are not effectively managed through medications and lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend surgery. This involves a medical professional locating and removing endometriosis lesions in your body.

Endometriosis surgery is associated with its own risks and benefits. Your doctor will discuss these with you if surgery is a potential treatment option.

If you have any concerns or questions, speak with your doctor. It’s important to know all the potential risks and benefits before any type of surgery so that you can do what’s right for you.

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Endometriosis can lead to GI symptoms like nausea. If you have endometriosis, you may notice that nausea gets worse during your period or after eating.

You may be able to prevent or ease nausea symptoms by taking your endometriosis medications as directed and by implementing lifestyle changes. This can include making changes to your diet and adjusting your eating habits.

You can treat nausea at home by taking anti-nausea medications, eating bland foods, and staying hydrated. Be sure to follow up with your doctor if your nausea is frequent or ongoing, happens with severe pain, or affects your ability to get proper nutrition.