7 signs you might have endometriosis
Endometriosis symptoms are similar to those of other conditions, making diagnosis tricky. Know the common symptoms and talk with your doctor if you're experiencing any.
Endometriosis is often a challenging condition to diagnose. It causes tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus (the endometrium) to grow outside of your uterus. Its symptoms can be unclear and similar to symptoms of other conditions. Because of this, many women experience endometriosis symptoms for up to 10 years or more before they receive a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
An early diagnosis of endometriosis could help you better manage your symptoms. So, it's important to know the signs and symptoms and talk with your doctor if you're experiencing any.
Endometriosis signs and symptoms include:
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before your period and continue several days into your period. Some women describe this period-related pain as far worse than usual and increasing over time.
- Pain in your pelvic area, belly or lower back. You may experience pelvic, lower back, or belly pain during your period or, sometimes, longer term (chronically).
- Pain during or after sex (dyspareunia). This pain may feel deep and often changes depending on sexual position and where you are in your menstrual cycle.
- Excessive bleeding. You may have occasional heavy periods (menorrhagia) or bleeding between periods (menometrorrhagia).
- Difficulty getting pregnant (infertility). Endometriosis is first diagnosed in some women who seek treatment for infertility.
- Pain with bowel movements or urination. You're most likely to experience these symptoms during your period.
- Fatigue and digestive symptoms. Other symptoms can include fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during your menstrual periods.
Endometriosis can be mistaken for other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. It may also be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes bouts of diarrhea, constipation and abdominal cramping. And IBS can accompany endometriosis, which can complicate the diagnosis.
If you experience any endometriosis symptoms, talk with your doctor about whether your symptoms might be caused by endometriosis. This is especially true if you experience several or more such symptoms, which may more strongly suggest endometriosis. Come to your appointment ready to discuss your symptoms and when they occur, including the location of your pain, if any.
Jan. 30, 2020
See more In-depth
- Endometriosis. The National Women's Health Information Center. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis. Accessed Dec. 26, 2017.
- Schenken RS. Endometriosis: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 26, 2017.
- Frequently asked questions. Gynecological problems FAQ013. Endometriosis. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Endometriosis. Accessed Dec. 26, 2017.
- AskMayoExpert. Endometriosis. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Practice Bulletins — Obstetrics. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 114: Management of endometriosis. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2010;116:223.
- Jameson JL, et al., eds. Endometriosis. In: Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 26, 2017.
- Schrager S, et al. Evaluation and treatment of endometriosis. American Family Physician. 2013;87:107.
- Hansen KE, et al. Visceral syndrome in endometriosis patients. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. 2014;179:198.