Red Light Therapy for Endometriosis: A Promising New Approach

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Endometriosis is a debilitating chronic inflammatory disease that most often occurs on or around female reproductive organs in the pelvis or abdomen. It is impossible to talk about women’s health without addressing this serious, but often overlooked issue.

A woman’s uterus is lined with endometrial tissue, also known as uterine endometrium or uterine lining. The function of this lining is to prepare the body for implantation, maintain pregnancy in case the implantation occurs, or menstruation if it doesn’t. 

However, in the case of endometriosis, endometrial-type tissue is lined outside of the uterus. Some of the usual symptoms of endometriosis are:

  • excessive menstrual cramps
  • abnormal or heavy menstrual flow
  • chronic pelvic pain
  • abdominal pain and bloating
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • pain during sexual intercourse, bowel movements or urination
  • a possibility of depression and anxiety.

It’s not only an excruciating condition. It can also cause long-term severe consequences including infertility or difficulty getting pregnant. 

Endometriosis Treatment Options

The World Health Organization estimates that roughly 10% (approximately 190 million) of reproductive-age women worldwide are affected by endometriosis. 

What’s particularly concerning is that at this time, there is no cure for this disease, and the only treatments that are available are those to help ease and manage its symptoms, such as: 

  • Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and paracetamol that are intended to manage the pain caused by endometriosis.
  • Hormone therapy that can control hormone levels or stop the body from producing certain hormones, but that can also prevent your body from getting pregnant. These include oral contraceptives with estrogen and progesterone, progestins to stop menstrual periods and endometrial tissue growth, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs to limit or stop ovarian hormones.
  • Laparoscopy: a procedure in which a surgeon makes a few small incisions in the abdomen to remove the endometrial tissue. It typically has a shorter recovery time and smaller scars compared with traditional open surgery (laparotomy). 
  • Laparotomy: a procedure in which a surgeon makes a larger incision in the abdomen to remove the endometrial tissue; unfortunately, even though laparoscopy and laparotomy can provide pain relief, it may only be short-term as the pain may return.  
  • Hysterectomy: a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. This option will put the body into menopause and prevent any possibility of pregnancy.
  • Oophorectomy: a surgical procedure to remove ovaries, which will lower estrogen levels and slow or stop endometrial tissue growth, but it also poses the risks and side effects of menopause; in this case, a patient still may be able to get pregnant with in-vitro fertilization.

Unfortunately, all of these treatment options come with the possibility of life-changing side effects. 

However, near-infrared and red light therapy has recently emerged as a new approach to treating the symptoms of endometriosis that is safe, effective, natural, and chemical-free. 

How Does Red Light Therapy Work? 

Even though red light therapy has become more widespread as of late, it’s actually not a new-age invention, as it may appear to be at first glance. In fact, it has existed for over 100 years, and NASA scientists have developed it to promote wound healing and human tissue growth.

Red light therapy (aka photobiomodulation) uses light-emitting diodes that deliver wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to produce a whole array of therapeutic benefits. 

Red light is visible, includes shorter wavelengths (typically ranging from 625 to 700 nanometers), and is primarily effective on the skin’s surface for wound healing, skin care and rejuvenation, and more.

Near-infrared light is invisible, involves longer wavelengths (typically from 700 to 2,500 nanometers), and is effective both on the skin’s surface and an inch and a half underneath it. That means it can also affect the body on the cellular level and support organ, bone, and muscle health. 

How Can Red Light Therapy Help with Endometriosis? 

One of the current endometriosis treatments is the use of oral contraceptives with estrogen (such as ethinyl estradiol) and progestins (such as desogestrel). A study from Beijing, China, compared the use of combined ethinyl estradiol and desogestrel to red light therapy for menstrual relief, discovering that both types of treatments achieved clinically meaningful pain reduction. That means that red light therapy can be used as a safe and effective alternative to the use of oral contraceptives that may prevent pregnancy. 

One randomized controlled trial studied the effectiveness of pulsed high-intensity laser therapy on 40 women between the ages of 24 and 32. All of these subjects suffered from a mild or a moderate degree of endometriosis. For the study purposes, researchers measured the scales of present pain intensity and pain relief. After 3 treatments per week for 8 weeks, pulsed high-intensity red light therapy was shown to be an effective method of pain relief. It proved to be effective at reducing adhesions and improving the quality of life in women with endometriosis.

Another recent study in Portugal explored the applications of red light therapy in treating endometrial diseases. The researchers concluded that red light therapy can potentially become an effective conservative treatment method for endometrial benign and malignant lesions. They also found this type of treatment minimally invasive, with few side effects, minimal scarring, and tissue destruction. 

How Can You Use Red Light Therapy at Home?

What’s particularly great about red light therapy is that it doesn’t require hugely expensive equipment, specialists, or regular visits to health clinics or wellness centers. All you need to use red light therapy is a conveniently portable, battery-powered, and highly affordable device that you can use yourself in the comfort of your own home, in nature, or wherever you prefer. 

FlexBeam is a revolutionary, wearable red light therapy device that uses synergistic wavelengths of red (630 nanometers) and near-infrared light (815 nanometers), a durable battery, and no electromagnetic field radiation. It also features pulsation for optimal effect, which was found to be particularly effective for women experiencing pain caused by endometriosis. 

Because all of the other treatment options for endometriosis come with potential side effects, near-infrared and red light therapy may be the perfect new approach to treating this debilitating disease. 

Sources Cited:

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/endometriosis

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/104454701753342758

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10103-021-03490-z

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29668354

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9138084