Dietitian in training publishes on nutritional interventions for endometriosis

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Dietitian in training publishes on nutritional interventions for endometriosis

Jane Wijbers is originally a psychosocial support worker, but is now following a part-time course in Nutrition and Dietetics at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. During her studies, she participated in a diet study on endometriosis at the Endometriosis Center of the Amsterdam UMC. The scientific publication of the results recently appeared, with Jane as the first author. The study looked at the effect of an endometriosis diet and the FODMAP diet in women with endometriosis.

Jane tells more about this in the “Practical” section. Do you also want to blog about your work or do you know a colleague with a good story? Tip the editors at

Here is Jane’s story:

No dietary treatment guideline for endometriosis yet

March was all about endometriosis; a common chronic condition that affects 1 in 10 women. There are still too many people with endometriosis whose lives are dominated by complaints such as severe menstrual pain, chronic abdominal pain or bloating. Lifestyle changes are increasingly being applied to reduce complaints and improve well-being. Research shows that following a diet is one of the popular self-care measures and that this has a positive effect on quality of life. Due to limited scientific evidence, no dietary treatment guideline is yet available. As an expert by experience and dietician in training, I thought that this had to change. This led to a collaboration with the Endometriosis Center of the Amsterdam UMC. Here, together with physician-researchers Drs. Annelotte van Haaps and Dr. Anneke Schreurs, under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Velja Mijatovic, I was able to investigate the effect of 2 diets, an endometriosis diet and the FODMAP diet, on complaints due to endometriosis and quality of life.

Both diets appear to be effective

This research was recently published in Human Reproduction, with me as shared first author. This prospective pilot study ran between April 2021 and December 2022 and 62 participants diagnosed with endometriosis were included. The participants could choose whether they wanted to follow a diet or participate in the control group without a diet. This resulted in 3 different groups: the FODMAP diet (22 participants), an endometriosis diet (21 participants) and a control group (19 participants). The participants in the diet groups followed a diet for 6 months, during which I guided them with their diet for the first 3 months. Attention was paid to maintaining a complete diet and the personal circumstances of the participant. The participants continued with the diet independently for the remaining 3 months. Quality of life was measured using the EHP-30 questionnaire, a validated questionnaire to objectify the quality of life in people diagnosed with endometriosis. To demonstrate the effect of a diet, the 2 diet groups were compared with the control group. The conclusion: both diets had a positive effect on reducing pain complaints and improving quality of life.

Endometriosis diet versus FODMAP diet

When breaking down the effects of the 2 different diets, FODMAP participants reported significant improvements in urinary pain and bloating after 6 months. Improvements in bloating and fatigue were reported with the endometriosis diet. Despite the positive effects, the results of this study should be interpreted with caution. For example, the endometriosis diet is based on experiences of people with endometriosis and not on scientific evidence. This diet was part of the study because it is often mentioned online as an effective way to combat symptoms, and there is therefore great interest in this diet among women. In addition, it may be that the mere idea that people can do something to reduce their symptoms has had an effect on the positive effects of the diet. The fact that participants in the diet group received extensive dietary guidance may also play a role in the positive results. Nevertheless, it can be concluded that a dietary intervention can be supportive of the treatment of endometriosis. Personalized dietary advice from a dietitian is essential, taking into account the complaint pattern and the wishes of the client.

Nutritional advice for endometriosis

It is important that a healthy and nutritious diet forms the basis of nutritional advice for endometriosis. It is not recommended to simply avoid food groups, such as gluten, cow’s milk or soy. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies and long-term health problems. An article about nutrition and endometriosis on by dietitians Emma Huijs and Linda Swart can serve as a guideline. However, endometriosis is a complex condition in which the pattern of complaints can vary greatly and in which people have gone through a lot, both physically and mentally. That is why a client benefits from a dietician with knowledge about this condition. A knowledge network has recently been formed of which I am an aspiring member: Endometriosis Dietitians Netherlands (EDN). EDN is committed to specialized nutritional care for endometriosis and works together with gynecologists who focus on endometriosis.

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