This post is sponsored by BetterHelp, the world’s largest professional therapy platform done online.

The state of your mental and physical health impacts one another. For instance, the American Psychological Association notes that too much stress can have downstream negative effects on everything from your heart health to your nervous system.

In an interview with Rescripted, Sreela Stovall, Ph.D., LMHC, Clinical Operations Manager at BetterHelp, walked us through how endometriosis — defined as tissue similar, but not identical, to the lining of the uterus that is found elsewhere in the body — can and does impact so many people’s mental health. 

“In the most comprehensive study to date, researchers have found that the experience of mental illness in women with endometriosis is not merely coincidental but that individuals with endometriosis have a genetic predisposition to depression, eating disorders and anxiety,” explains Stovall. “Other studies indicate that individuals suffering from endometriosis also experience a significant impact to their overall quality of life, which in turn impacts their mental health (depression and anxiety) as well as their emotional experiences."

How does endometriosis impact mental health, exactly?

The growth of endometriosis tissue can trigger physical symptoms like back pain, diarrhea, constipation, chronic fatigue, or even pain during sex. Notably, endometriosis flare-ups are rarely predictable — they don’t just pop up during the menstrual phase of your cycle, and they vary in severity whenever they do manifest. 

Endometriosis’ unpredictability and variability are just two of the qualities that can take a big toll on a person’s mental health. 

According to Stovall, specific symptoms can include everything from poor sleep to increased mood swings. 

“Depression, anxiety and eating disorders are the most common mental health disorders experienced by women with endometriosis,” explains Stovall. “Due to the genetic and hormonal impact of endometriosis on women, they can often experience increased mood swings, irritability, anger and decreased frustration tolerance. Additionally, the impact of the physical symptoms of endometriosis (e.g., significant pain and discomfort) extends to difficulties in quality of life, including poor sleep, relationship difficulties, feelings of inadequacy, chronic fatigue, poor self-esteem, and body image issues.”

What should I do if a doctor doesn't take my endometriosis symptoms seriously?

On average, it can take up to 10 years for a doctor to diagnose a patient with endometriosis. While everyone’s journey is different, patients going to more than one doctor visit is quite common. 

For those who are navigating the medical system, Stovall encourages advocating for yourself as a way to protect your mental health throughout your journey. 

“Your pain, your symptoms — they are real,” explains Stovall. “Gaslighting or the minimization of your pain and discomfort is an unfortunate experience that many individuals with endometriosis experience. The best thing you can do is track your symptoms, do your research around what to expect and inform your medical providers of your symptoms.”

She also encourages patients to ask questions about their suggested care plan, pain management, or even options for diagnosing endometriosis. For instance, since endometriosis is rarely seen on an ultrasound, endometriosis surgery (known as a laparoscopy) could be an option. 

Stovall adds: 

“If it’s helpful, or difficult for you to advocate for yourself, have someone accompany you. Make sure this is someone you trust and can advocate for you during these crucial appointments. It helps you to avoid second guessing yourself and also gives you the emotional support that you may need.” 

How can I manage my mental health daily while living with endometriosis? 

There are short-term and long-term things you can do to support your mental health as you live with endometriosis. 

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Stovall underscores that the most important first step is to validate your feelings: 

“Take the time to focus on yourself, practice deep breathing, participate in an activity that you enjoy/take pleasure in and that feels manageable for you. Cry, scream into a pillow, talk to someone you know and trust, let it out in a way that is safe for you.” 

In the long term, finding mental health support (like a counselor or therapist) can also help. BetterHelp makes therapy convenient and affordable — especially on the days when it feels impossible to get up from the couch. Get 20% off your first month here!

Stovall also suggests attending to your basic needs, like showering and eating, since supporting your physical health will have positive trickle effects on your mental health. 

Lastly, Stovall emphasizes that it’s normal to feel angry and irritable about how endometriosis impacts your daily life. She encourages using stress management practices like deep breathing, meditation, and exercise to further support your mental health. 

“Practicing self-soothing on a consistent basis, in addition to positive self-talk (e.g., ‘I am beautiful’), ‘My body is capable of amazing things!’) are critical in combating the stress and negative self-talk that accompanies endometriosis,” explains Stovall. 

Vivian Nunez is a writer, content creator, and host of Happy To Be Here podcast. Her award-winning Instagram community has created pathways for speaking on traditionally taboo topics, like mental health and grief. You can find Vivian @vivnunez on Instagram/TikTok and her writing on both Medium and her blog,