4 Signs You May Actually Have Endometriosis

Painful cramps (back, abdomen or groin). Painful bowel movements. Heavy and/or long menstrual bleeding. Fatigue. Bloating. Pain during intercourse. If this sounds like your run-of-the-mill period, then we’ve got a problem. That’s because many of those symptoms are key signs of the common condition, endometriosis.

This disorder occurs when the endometrial tissue that forms the lining of the uterus, grows other places in the body. Once outside of the uterus, the tissue is able to reproduce itself and continue spreading. On top of that, many of the most common symptoms of endometriosis mimic those of PMS, uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Therefore, endometriosis growths often go unchecked and the condition remains undiagnosed, sometimes for upwards of a decade.

To ensure that women of all ages—from the time of your first menstrual cycle to your last—know the common signs of endometriosis, Sheila Warren, RN, GMC’s Wellness Navigator, explains the key symptoms you should never ignore.

Painful cramps.

Yes, a certain amount of cramping during your period is to be expected. After all, your uterus is contracting to shed its lining. However, there’s a point at which cramps turn from bearable—albeit unpleasant—to extremely severe and painful.

“For instance, sharp localized or shooting pain in your abdomen, groin, back or rectum, this could be a sign of endometriosis, especially if you notice this pain between andduring your period,” explains Warren.

“If you’re on the fence about whether or not your cramps are really that severe, a good rule-of-thumb is whether or not your cramps affect or limit your everyday activities.”

Digestive issues.

When it’s running smoothly, the digestive tract works to process food by moving it from the stomach, though the intestinal tract and finally to the rectum. Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors that can interfere with this process along the way—and it doesn’t take much.

“Whether it’s eating something questionable, having endometriosis or battling IBS, any number of things can disrupt the digestive process,” notes Warren. This leads to symptoms like pain, cramping, constipation, diarrhea and bloating.

“While IBS causes all of these symptoms, there are few key ways endometriosis-induced tummy trouble differs,” adds Warren. “The main takeaway being that with endometriosis, pain and cramping will not decrease after a bowel movement, like it does with IBS.”

Heavy periods.

Depending on who you ask, you’ll receive a different definition of what constitutes a heavy period. This is often based on personal experience. Unfortunately, though, for a woman with endometrioses, a heavy period may be all she knows.

Of course it isn’t just endometriosis that impacts your monthly cycle. There are many other factors that come into play, such as stress, exercise, weight loss/gain and more. 

“There are many different ways to gauge the heaviness of periods—flow, clotting or number of days—so if you feel your periods may be abnormal, it’s best to consult with your medical provider,” emphasizes Warren.

Fatigue.

Energy seems to be one of those things that’s always in short supply. Whether it’s a lack of sleep, sitting in an office all day, eating junk food or all of the above, it doesn’t take much to zap your energy.

However, when that drowsy tiredness that creeps in every afternoon shifts into chronic fatigue, there could be something more at play, like endometriosis. “Because of the increased blood loss each month, some women experience fatigue as a result of anemia,” says Warren.

“If you’re struggling to concentrate, having difficulty sleeping, experiencing aching muscles or joints, or weakness, this may be cause for concern,” notes Warren. “If you notice these symptoms peaking during your period, endometriosis may be the culprit.”

Are there any other symptoms?

The truth is there are a wide variety of symptoms that can be linked to endometriosis. You may notice pain with sex, nausea/vomiting, painful urination, spotting or no symptoms at all. “The only way you’ll really know if its endometriosis or something else entirely, is to work with your healthcare provider,” notes Warren.

“If you notice any of these symptoms, or are experiencing something that’s abnormal for you, don’t wait to get care.” Put your mind and symptoms at ease by talking with the provider that knows you and your health best.
Complete care for every stage of life.

The expertsof Gwinnett Physicians Group–OB/GYN are dedicated to fulfilling the unique medical needs of women. With an extensive range of comprehensive women’s health services, you will receive personalized care you deserve. And because we know that women’s health extends beyond gynecologic and reproductive care, Gwinnett Physician’s Group OB/GYN can connect you with the vast array of services and resources of GMC.

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