Endometriosis Advice

Signs of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition that can affect women at any point between puberty and menopause. It occurs when tissue that is normally present inside the uterus, called the endometrium, travels outside and attaches to other organs in the body. The endometrium can attach itself to any part of the body.

The endometrium is the tissue that thickens during a woman's normal menstrual cycle. If she becomes pregnant, this tissue forms the nest where the fertilized egg will implant, and it helps to nourish the developing fetus. When no pregnancy has occurred, the lining is sloughed off and shed from the body during menstruation.

Abdominal Pain
One of the most common signs of endometriosis is abdominal pain. The discomfort can be confined to the abdominal region only, or it can radiate down into the groin or the top of the legs.

Pain During Urination or Bowel Movements
A woman with endometriosis may also complain of pain when she uses the washroom. Painful urination or bowel movements may be signs of this disorder.

Menstrual Pain
The symptom that is most likely to send a woman into her doctor's office for a consultation that may lead to a diagnosis of endometriosis is pain during menstruation. While some cramping just before and in the first couple of days of the period is considered normal, pain that is intense enough to interfere with the woman's everyday activities may be due to endometriosis.

Heavy Menstrual Periods
Many women experience a menstrual period that is heavier than normal at times. If, after monitoring their cycle for a few months, this pattern continues, it should be investigated by a doctor. Heavy menstrual bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, is one of the symptoms of endometriosis.

Pain During Intercourse
Depending on where the endometrium has attached itself outside of the uterus, the woman may find that intercourse is painful. If the endometrium has attached itself to the upper portion of the vagina, this fact would explain the discomfort.

The first sign for some women that they have endometriosis may be that they are unable to become pregnant when they are ready to start a family. The condition is often diagnosed when doctors are investigating the cause of the infertility.

Laparoscopy to Diagnose Endometriosis
The symptoms of endometriosis resemble those of several other medical conditions. Until a doctor performs a laparoscopy (a minor surgical procedure where a surgeon inserts a rod outfitted with a camera through small incisions in the abdomen to inspect the internal organs), a true diagnosis can't be made.

Other Conditions with Similar Symptoms
When a woman goes to see her doctor complaining of abdominal pain, the doctor may consider ovarian cysts or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) as the cause of her condition. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can cause abdominal pain, and this medical condition also produces symptoms that are similar to those of endometriosis. A woman who has endometriosis can also have IBS, which makes it challenging for a doctor to make an accurate diagnosis.