Endometriosis, a condition causing distressing symptoms such as painful periods, fatigue, and infertility, affects about one in 10 women in the UK. Sadly, the journey to diagnosis is lengthy, averaging eight years, with statistics remaining unchanged for a decade. Although the origins and cure of this condition remain elusive, treatment options vary from pain-relief medications to hormonal therapies and surgical interventions.
The intensity of the pain can severely impact daily life, making work, socialising, and exercising challenging. Personal trainer Stef Williams, also known as Stef Fit on Instagram with 2.2 million followers, understands this firsthand. Experiencing “stabbing, crippling pains” on bad days, she recognises the significance of staying active, which has always been important to her mental well-being.
However, after her diagnosis, Stef faced hurdles in finding suitable exercise routines. Surgery left her temporarily unable to engage in her usual weightlifting and cardio activities. Frustrated by the lack of clear guidance online and from medical professionals, Stef took matters into her own hands and researched extensively.
Dr. Sharon Dixon from the University of Oxford emphasises the scarcity of evidence regarding exercise’s impact on endometriosis. While the benefits are evident, the specifics are still evolving.
For Stef, managing pain involves starting with gentle activities like walking. Even a short stroll provides relief on days of exhaustion. She has also embraced softer exercises like Pilates and yoga, which don’t require expensive gym memberships and can be practised at home. These activities aid muscle engagement even during recovery periods post-surgery.
Drawing parallels between endometriosis and menstrual pain, Dr. Dixon notes that low-intensity exercises like yoga and Pilates have shown promise in reducing discomfort. Stef, despite her diagnosis, continues to pursue impact and strength training. Her advice for fellow sufferers who wish to engage in such activities is to exercise patience.
In the end, while research into the precise effects of exercise on endometriosis is ongoing, individuals like Stef Williams are paving the way for more comprehensive understanding and tailored advice for women dealing with this condition.