What are the common symptoms of Endometriosis?
Endometriosis symptoms can sometimes improve by themselves, but they can also progress over time. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and often they may be intermittent in nature. It tends to be worse during menstruation, ovulation, and sexual intercourse.
The pain can often start in the lead up to (around 2-5 days before) menstruation.
Although some people, especially those within the later stages (moderate -severe) can experience pain and symptoms outside of menstruation or even continuously throughout the month.
Some may also experience pain, discomfort, and sometimes bleeding during pelvic exams or any other type of physical exam involving a doctor manually investigating their pelvis.
Keeping a diary of your symptoms can not only help towards getting the care and support you need, but it can also help you think about your symptoms and when and how often they occur.
What are the most common signs to look out for?
Some people may experience one or two symptoms, whereas others may experience a combination of them. The following symptoms are often associated with Endometriosis (the list is not exhaustive) and includes:
This pain is usually felt in the lower abdomen and lower back. It may extend to the rectum, hips, and legs (sciatic pain). This pain can (sometimes) be so severe that it can cause significant difficulty in walking and sitting, particularly during your period. This type of pelvic pain can result in people being bedridden, and unable to attend school or work. Some people may also experience abdominal pain. This usually feels like cramping, burning or a dull ache (varying in intensity)
Changes in menstrual flow
The menstrual flow can differ from month to month. It may be heavy, or you might bleed for long periods of time or in between periods. Some people may also experience light bleeding, or absent periods. Endometriosis is often associated with adenomyosis. This is where endometrial-like tissue begins to grow inside the myometrium (the muscle of the uterus) and may cause heavy bleeding during menstruation. Fatigue (extreme tiredness) -Lethargy, lack of energy, exhaustion, and the general feeling of being ‘run-down’.
Water retention and bloating are typical of sensitivity to changes in hormones in relation to the menstrual cycle. With bowel involvement and Endometriosis, you may find you are more sensitive, and the abdomen can distend larger than a typical ‘bloat’. Often this swelling can be triggered by having a period, carrying out exercise, engaging in sexual intercourse or it may be triggered from something as simple as what you eat.
Abdominal swelling can be uncomfortable and painful, and it can typically last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Abdominal swelling may also be due to a large cyst.
Abnormal urinary or bowel habits
Painful bladder and bowel movements may suggest signs of Endometriosis. Some people may experience the feeling of needing to pass urine more urgently or frequently than usual, pain in the lower back and kidney area, and UTI like symptoms. Others may experience changes in bowel habits, such as not being able to pass stools. Less commonly, passing blood in urine or stools may also suggest signs of Endometriosis.
A sharp or dull pain and sometimes bleeding, during or after sexual intercourse. This pain may worsen depending on the position you are in. In some this pain can also be triggered by orgasm, causing deep pain for several hours afterwards.
Endometriosis can lead to difficulties conceiving
If you are experiencing unusual pain that is stopping you from carrying out your usual day-to-day activities like attending school or work, or if you have noticed changes around your periods, there is a chance you might have Endometriosis, or it could be the sign of something else. It is important to tell your doctor as early as possible.