5 Signs of Endometriosis a Woman Must Never Ignore

“One in 10 women of reproductive age in the UK suffer from endometriosis. 176 million worldwide. Endometriosis in women with infertility is as high as 50%. Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological condition (after fibroids) in the UK” [1]

Did you know that: “on average, it takes 7.5 years from the onset of symptoms to get a diagnosis, and it shouldn’t” [2], and that is why seeing an endometriosis specialist is crucial. Indeed, while the majority of women manage the odd painful sex session, difficult menstrual cramps, and heavy periods: “for up to 10% of women of childbearing age, these symptoms signal something more serious: endometriosis” [2]. Endometriosis refers to a disorder in which tissue similar to that which forms your uterus lining, develops outside of your uterine cavity.

“Countless women suffer endometriosis symptoms for years, & sadly, they have no idea of the damage they inflicting on their health and fertility”

By not ignoring your symptoms, and having a correct diagnosis by booking an appointment with an endometriosis specialist, you are empowered to:

•Undergo appropriate up-to-date treatment, sparing you from countless years of living in unnecessary, continual pain
•Regain your confidence, after having been told by uninformed GPs that you are ‘making up’ your symptoms; or having your symptoms ignored when you have gone to your local surgery for a consultation
•Remain in work, by being given a correct endometriosis diagnosis, which is a recognised medical condition that can be understood and dealt with
•Make informed decisions, with regard to fertility issues “(endometriosis doubles the risk of infertility in under 35s)” [2].

So now let’s take a look at 5 signs of endometriosis you should look out for:

Number 1: Period Pains. At the time of your menstrual cycle, the cells which normally line your womb, could actually be thickening and bleeding outside your womb as well. This explains why during your menses, you experience more severe and longer-lasting pain than you would if you did not have endometriosis. Generally speaking, the endometriosis pain can be felt in the lower back, the lower abdomen, or the pelvis. Women with endometriosis may endure severe period pains which negatively affect their life over 3 to 4 days each and every month. Further, with endometriosis, instead of the standard 6 day maximum span of a period, menses can continue for more than 7 days. Moreover, sufferers may also experience excessive bleeding. – For example, during your menses, you may find that you are soaking through your sanitary towel or tampon every couple of hours. And in addition to this, you may also find clumps of blood in your menstrual flow [3].

Number 2: Pain During Sex. If you have endometriosis, then you may think that painful sex is the norm. However, this pain is caused by the bleeding outside your womb, which is not able to exit your body. As a result, when this bleeding builds up, it can easily generate inflammation and internal scarring. Sex can be extremely painful, as there is also a lack of flexibility. Moreover, orgasms and arousal are both painful, even during masturbation. So it is easy to understand that whenever you have sex, these painful areas become disturbed, thus making your sexual relations somewhat strained. Moreover, this scenario prevents you from enjoying great sex [3].

Number 3: Pain Whilst Going to the Toilet. As time passes, the same cells as those lining your womb, bleed outside your womb, thus generating a bonding of various pelvic organs, which become frozen in place. This can bring on pain when you urinate and pass faeces. Of note, this scenario is not solely limited to the time of your menses, and can occur any any time of the month Symptoms of bowel endometriosis are not the same for everyone, however the range includes: rectal bleeding, rectal pain, feeling sick, intestinal cramping, diarrhoea and feeling constipated [3].

Number 4: Difficulty Becoming Pregnant. If your endometriosis is not treated, or not appropriately treated, then you can suffer from fibrosis, and your ovarian tubes can be negatively affected by the
bonding (adhesion) between pelvic organs. Unfortunately, this scenario means that women become infertile, and becoming pregnant is harder [3].

Number 5: Fatigue and Nausea. Many women can connect their most difficult premenstrual bouts to feeling exceptionally tired, and having aching muscles. But when it comes to endometriosis, these experiences are seriously amplified around the time of a period. Indeed, this condition can bring about a feeling of exhaustion, and non-stop nausea, and being sick [3]. The Endometriosis Foundation of America states the importance of realizing that: “fatigue is not a typical tired feeling due to a lack of sleep or a full day’s work. Rather, endometriosis patients report feeling a constant exhaustion. They have described this fatigue as being “tranquillised” or having “their eyes go heavy and swollen to the point where they just felt like they cannot do anything” [4]. Moreover, such a feeling of tiredness can also act as a warning that a pain flare-up is on the way [4].

So What Does the Research Say About Endometriosis Symptoms?

Researchers of one study which involved 22 endometriosis patients with: “a mean age of 38.6 years (range, 27-48 years), found that the symptoms reported by endometriosis patients were fatigue (100%), pain with periods (86.4%), heavy bleeding (77.3%), non-menstrual pelvic pain (50.0%), back pain and leg pain (40.9%), headaches/migraines (40.9%), cramping throughout the month (36.4%), gastrointestinal disturbances (constipation, diarrhea, pain with bowel movements) (36.4%), nausea (27.3%), bloating (22.7%), painful intercourse (18.2%), infertility (18.2%), and ovulation-related pain (9.1%)” [5].

References

[1]. Royal College of Nursing (2017). “Endometriosis Fact Sheet.”
https://www.rcn.org.uk/clinical-topics/womens-health/endometriosis

[2]. Endometriosis UK (2020). “It takes an average of 7.5 years for a woman to get a diagnosis of endometriosis.”
https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/news/it-takes-average-75-years-get-diagnosis-endometriosis-it-shouldnt-37491#.X8JQj2gzbP4

[3]. The Mayo Clinic (2020).
www.mayoclinic.org

[4]. Endometriosis Foundation of America (2020). “Endometriosis Symptoms: Fatigue & Personality Changes.”
https://www.endofound.org/fatigue-personality-changes

[5]. Onur, I. (2020). “Fatigue from the viewpoint of patients with endometriosis.” EndoNews
https://www.endonews.com/fatigue-from-the-viewpoint-of-patients-with-endometriosis#:~:text=The%20research%20team%20found%20that,(36.4%25)%2C%20gastrointest