5 Symptoms Of Endometriosis

Endometriosis, which affects nearly one in 10 women, is thought to be severely underdiagnosed all around the world. The progressive condition is characterized by endometrial tissue, which lines the inside of the uterus, growing elsewhere.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, it typically affects women between the ages of 15 and 44. Here are five common symptoms you should know about:

1. Pelvic and abdominal pain

Some women may experience long-term pain in their lower back, abdomen, and pelvis which can flare up whenever their period starts, leading to severe cramps.

"The pain could be localized, but it could also cause a shooting pain into the groin, back, or rectum," said Tamer Seckin, a New York City-based gynecologist and co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America.

There is a concern that many women overlook these symptoms, failing to realize their menstrual pain is above normal levels. It is one of the reasons why endometriosis can face years of delay in being diagnosed.

2. Bleeding occurs in excess

Around a third of women with endometriosis face one or more abnormalities related to bleeding. Heavy flow during periods and clots in the period blood could be potential signs.

Bleeding can also occur between periods, which is known as menometrorrhagia. This should be brought to the attention of a doctor as it could even be a sign of other problems like hormonal imbalances, vaginal dryness, or cancer.

3. Having sex really hurts

Pain during sexual intercourse, known as dyspareunia, is another common symptom of endometriosis. The endometrial tissue may be pulled or stretched during sex, especially during movements like deep penetration.

"When the penis goes deep, toward the back of the vagina, you might be putting pressure on the ligaments that hold the uterus in place, and those are a hotspot for endometriosis," said Maria Sophocles, an OB-GYN at Women’s Healthcare of Princeton in New Jersey.

4. Trouble getting pregnant

Between 25 to 50 percent of infertile women are estimated to suffer from endometriosis, which may cause internal scarring or inflammation. Such complications can prevent the release of eggs, block sperm from entering the fallopian tubes, or harm the development of the embryo.

Many women only discover they have endometriosis after they are unable to conceive and opt for an examination to find out why. The condition can only be identified with the help of an invasive test known as a laparoscopy. 

5. Gastrointestinal or bladder problems

With symptoms like constipation and diarrhea, many patients mistake their condition for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Pain during urination or the sudden/unexplained change in frequency of urination can also be important signs in some cases.

"We often have women who come in and have seen a GI specialist or urologist but haven’t been able to find relief, and that’s because they actually have endometriosis and not something like IBS," Sophocles added.