Endometriosis

Common Signs and Symptoms of Endometriosis

Painful bowel movements, stomach cramps, nausea, and abdominal pain are symptoms that women often associated with poor diet and menstruation. However, sometimes these so-called “normal female aches and pains” can indicate a medical condition known as endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a chronic women’s disease. It occurs when cells from the lining of the uterus (endometrium) begin to grow outside the uterus in other pelvic organs, such as the ovaries. This can damage the function of other organs, such as the bladder, intestines, and appendix, and even causing permanent infertility. Surgery is usually the only effective treatment to stop the growth and correct the organ damage.

Don’t ignore the following 12 symptoms of endometriosis…

1. Pelvic Pain

Mild to severe pelvic pain may be your first indication that something may be wrong. Most endometriosis sufferers report waves of pain before, during, or following menstruation.

2. Painful Urination

Pain while urinating (known clinically as dysuria) is common to those suffering from endometriosis due to the pressure of increased water retention, which creates bladder pain and pressure. You may also notice an increase in bladder infections, especially after intercourse, as well as the need to urinate more frequently and urgently.

3. Lowered Immunity

Endometriosis sufferers generally have weaker immune systems, which can leave them prone to common colds, allergies, food sensitivities, skin sensitivities, and bladder infections.

4. Sore Lower Back and Shoulders

Another vague symptom of endometriosis is also common with a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. However, most endometriosis sufferers report achy muscles and tension build up in the lower back and shoulder regions during and following menstruation.

5. Intestinal Pain

Intestinal pain can occur, specifically during your period, during ovulation, when urinating or having a bowel movement, and during or following sexual intercourse. Don’t dismiss this pain as a normal symptom of menstruation when you don’t normally experience discomfort or cramping.

6. Mood Swings

Due to unbalanced levels of hormones, women with endometriosis tend to suffer from extreme mood swings. This is caused by elevated levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which can leave you laughing one moment and angry or sobbing the next.

7. Blood Clotting

Heavy or irregular bleeding with your monthly menstrual cycle may indicate an underlying health concern, such as endometriosis. Particularly if menstrual blood turns dark, stale looking and appears as sticky or stringy lumps, or clots.

8. Bowel Changes and Discomfort

Explosive bouts of diarrhea, particularly following a meal can occur with endometriosis. You may also notice blood around the anus after a difficult bowel movement or explosive bout of diarrhea. Diarrhea can be followed by periods of constipation. The diarrhea-constipation cycle may come and go with your menstruation cycle.

9. Bloating

Abdominal bloating is often expected with your monthly period. However, if you aren’t prone to bloating or water retention, this may be the first sign that there is something out of balance with your body, especially if occasional period pain becomes routine with menstruation to the point where you need to take pain relievers (i.e., ibuprofen [Advil]) to cope or if the abdominal area becomes so swollen you are unable to wear the same size clothing during menstruation.

10. Infertility

Sadly, medical studies show that 40-percent of females who suffer from endometriosis also have trouble conceiving children. The risk of infertility is higher if endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus and attaches itself to the ovaries and fallopian tubes, causing scarring and interfering with ovulation.

11. Leg Pain

An increasingly common symptom of endometriosis is leg pain. In fact, MedicalNewsToday.com cites a 2016 study that found “as many as 50-percent of people with endometriosis may experience some form of leg pain.”

How exactly does this occur? Well, as mentioned earlier, endometrial cell growth can extend beyond the uterus and into surrounding areas, including nerves in the pelvis and hip area, which extend into the legs. This can cause pain, numbness, and a tingling sensation, not only in the leg but also in the hip, buttock, knee, or foot.

12. Shortness of Breath

Although rare, in some cases, endometrial cell growth can extend all the way to the diaphragm and lungs. In cases where endometriosis involves the diaphragm, noticeable symptoms can include upper abdominal pain on the right side of the body, pain in the rib cage, pain during inhalation, and nausea.

These same symptoms may be present when endometrial tissue grows in the lungs, along with chest pain, shortness of breath, and shoulder pain. This type of endometriosis, called thoracic endometriosis in the medical world, tends to occur in conjunction with endometriosis in the pelvis, but the onset is much later (around 35 years of age).

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Dr. Gerald Morris

Gerald Morris, MD is a physician (Family Medicine/Internal Medicine) with over 20 years expertise in the medical arena. Dr. Morris has spent time as a clinician, clinical research coordinator/manager, medical writer, and instructor. He is a proponent of patient education as a tool in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic medical conditions. Hence, his contribution to articles on Activebeat.

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