Over 10% of women in the United States of childbearing age have endometriosis, a condition that can be a little unpredictable when it comes to symptoms. Some severe cases of endometriosis cause no symptoms at all while milder cases are immensely painful.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your gynecologist about endometriosis so you can identify the signs and get a diagnosis right away.
Endometriosis occurs when some of the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus, called the endometrium, starts to grow outside your uterus. It can grow on other tissues in your pelvic cavity, on various pelvic organs, or even on your stomach and bowels in rare cases.
And just like your normal endometrial tissue, this overgrowth swells up and sheds during your menstrual period. The key difference is that the overgrown tissue has nowhere to exit and simply builds up inside your body, where it can cause irritation, scarring, and cysts.
Our team of gynecology experts at The Association for Women’s Health Care provide endometriosis evaluations and the treatment you need to manage pain or increase fertility in The Loop in Chicago and in Northbrook, Illinois.
Your OB/GYN can dive into the details during your next visit so you’re aware of the possible signs and symptoms.
Signs of endometriosis
Although endometriosis symptoms can vary and fluctuate, there are four key symptoms that routinely point to endometriosis as their underlying cause:
Pain, usually in the pelvis, is the most prevalent symptom of endometriosis. But it doesn’t feel the same for every woman who has the condition. You might experience increased menstrual cramps or more spontaneous and unpredictable pain in your pelvic region.
Some of the most common features of pain from endometriosis are:
- Deep pain during sexual intercourse
- Deep pain shortly after sexual intercourse
- Intestinal pain
- Low back pain
- Pain while urinating
- Painful bowel movements
When you visit one of our offices for a routine evaluation or specifically because of your symptoms, describe your pain in detail. Include the location of the pain, its intensity, and how often it happens.
This is one of the more surprising symptoms of endometriosis. If you’re constantly bloated, constipated, or have frequent diarrhea, endometriosis probably isn’t your first guess as to the cause. It might not even make the top 10.
While these symptoms typically come from conditions that originate in your digestive system like lactose intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome, your gynecologist has another possible guess.
At The Association for Women’s Health Care, we can evaluate you to rule out other causes and see if endometriosis is causing your digestive woes. In addition to bowel problems, you might have trouble urinating too.
Abnormal bleeding is one of the symptoms we see the most. There are numerous conditions that cause it and some issues that are circumstantial.
While endometriosis doesn’t directly cause increased menstrual bleeding or spotting between periods, its complications can. For example, you might have endometrial tissue growing on one of your ovaries, which alters its hormonal output and influences your menstrual cycle.
Endometriosis can also indirectly cause abnormal bleeding because of increased stress and anxiety surrounding the condition. When you’re stressed about your health, your hormones fluctuate in response, which can cause symptoms like abnormal bleeding and weight loss.
Infertility is the term that describes trouble getting pregnant. There are almost countless conditions that can cause infertility, and usually the infertility itself is treatable. Endometrial overgrowth can block off your fallopian tubes to prevent the sperm and egg from meeting.
While planning your endometriosis treatment, we consider whether you plan on getting pregnant anytime soon. Hormonal birth control is one treatment that can stop your menstrual cycle to keep the endometrium from swelling and shedding, but you should consider other options if you want to get pregnant.
Are you ready to learn more?
Without an evaluation, you won’t know for sure if you have endometriosis or if something else is causing your symptoms. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone at The Association for Women’s Health Care for a diagnostic exam with imaging studies.