Objectives Endometriosis is a chronic disease with no known cure. Persons affected by this disease often use complementary therapies such as dietary changes to reduce their symptoms, and so it is important to investigate whether and how these therapies affect endometriosis symptoms. The aim of this study was to explore how persons with endometriosis experienced their health after dietary changes.
Design Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 12 persons with endometriosis who had made individual dietary changes aimed at decreasing their endometriosis symptoms. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim, and analysed using thematic analysis.
Setting Region Västra Götaland and the estern part of Central Sweden, Sweden.
Participants Twelve persons with endometriosis aged 28 to 44 were recruited from two Swedish endometriosis support forums on the Internet.
Results Participants experienced an increase in well-being and a decrease in symptoms following their dietary and lifestyle changes. They also felt that the dietary changes led to increased energy levels and a deeper understanding of how they could affect their health by listening to their body’s reactions. The participants understood that they could influence their symptoms through lifestyle changes. Support from family and friends was important in implementing and sustaining the dietary changes. However, the participants stressed the lack of support from healthcare professionals.
Conclusions This study contributes to filling the knowledge gap about dietary strategies in endometriosis and lifestyle change as a method of alleviating suffering and increasing well-being. An important finding is that the participants experienced decreased symptoms and increased well-being after adopting an individually-adapted diet. Healthcare professionals should take their patients’ knowledge and experience into consideration, and allow patients to participate in their own care. Further research is necessary to give evidenced-based dietary advices in endometriosis.
- dietary changes
- qualitative research
- nutrition & dietetics
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Contributors All authors contributed to this article, and all have approved the final manuscript. JVK and AP were involved in the design of the study and analysis of the data; JVK performed the recruitment and data collection and drafted the manuscript. HP scrutinised the result and also contributed to the manuscript. All authors (JVK, AP and HP) took part in the writing process and performed critical revisions of the manuscript.
Funding This work was supported by the local research and development board for Fyrbodal.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval Ethical approval was obtained from the Regional Ethics Committee of Gothenburg (ref: 889–16).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.