Endometriosis symptoms affect millions of women today regardless of their age or race. In fact, you may have no endometriosis symptoms at all and still have this condition.
What are the most common endometriosis symptoms?
The most common endometriosis symptoms are pain and cramping in the pelvic region. You may also experience one or more of the following endometriosis symptoms:
- Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic area around the time of your period or during ovulation
- Cramping so severe that it causes nausea, diarrhea and stomach problems (sometimes misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS)
- Engaging in sex or having a bowel movement can also be very painful
The pain of endometriosis symptoms can happen without any known cause. Yet, the amount of pain you feel is not necessarily related to the severity of the endometriosis. You could have no pain with severe endometriosis while other women with mild endometriosis can have terrible pain.
Other common endometriosis symptoms include:
- Infertility (usually women with severe endometriosis)
- Heavy periods, irregular bleeding and abnormally long or short menstrual cycles
The cause of endometriosis symptoms
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue (the tissue that lines the uterus) moves to abnormal places of the body in and around the pelvic area.
Like normal uterine tissue, endometrial tissue breaks down and bleeds every month during menstruation. When this happens, scar tissue and inflammation can develop, causing pain and other associated symptoms. Scar tissue continues to grow over time and the condition worsens.
Endometrial tissue can appear around the ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, cervix, bowel, rectum, bladder, ureters and behind the uterus. Sometimes when endometrial tissue is located in the ovaries, cysts can form. These cysts can range from the size of a pea to bigger than a grapefruit. Rarely, endometrial tissue may appear in other parts of the body, including the brain, lungs, and even on the skin.
If you are concerned about endometriosis, check out this resources list of questions to ask your doctor about endometriosis.
Who is at risk?
Endometriosis symptoms most commonly appear after age 25, but any female who menstruates is at risk. Endometriosis symptoms usually affect women who have never had children. There’s also a strong genetic link with endometriosis. If one of your relatives has endometriosis, then you are six times more likely to have endometriosis, too.
Medical experts estimate that approximately 75 percent of women who have pelvic pain also suffer from endometriosis. In fact, endometriosis is the number one cause of pelvic pain, reproductive surgeries and infertility in women.
Endometriosis treatment is available to help you manage your symptoms. Although there is no cure for endometriosis symptoms, treatments can help you to reduce or completely relieve your symptoms. Some treatments can help women with infertility caused by endometriosis to get pregnant and raise families. Treatment options may include:
- Pain medicines
- Hormone therapy
- Alternative treatments and relaxation therapies
If you think that you have endometriosis, visit your OB/GYN. They will ask about your endometriosis symptoms and can screen for the disease by using ultrasound, a pelvic exam, or laparoscopy, a form of surgery. Contact your doctor to find the best treatment options that allow you to live an active, productive life.Sources
- American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology
- American Pregnancy Association
- MedlinePlus: Endometriosis
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine