Endometriosis – or endo – has been making headlines recently, with more and more women opening up about their experience with the painful disease.
It occurs when tissue from inside the womb grows outside of it, resulting in painful adhesions on the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and bowel.
Increasing awareness and understanding of the often invisible, but almost always debilitating disease is incredibly important. Especially because 10% of women will be affected, with many suffering for a long time due to the nature of the symptoms and the difficulty of diagnosis. The only way to determine if you have endo is by a laparoscopy – an invasive operation in which a tissue sample is taken to be tested.
Plus many of the common signs of endo are sometimes overlooked or attributed to other health issues. These are the symptoms you should question.
1. Painful periods
Plenty of us have cramps around our periods, but consistent, debilitating pain is not normal. If you’ve had to stay home from work or school because you’re in agony, it’s time to speak to a medical professional.
2. Ovulation pain
For some women suffering from endometriosis, the pain doesn’t end when their period does. If you’re experiencing aching and cramping mid-cycle (while you’re ovulating) it might be a sign that something is amiss.
3. Painful intercourse
Pain during or after sex can be put down to a range of issues but if you’re experiencing it alongside other symptoms get it checked out.
4. Gastrointestinal and urinary issues
Endo can cause constipation, diarrhea, and pain with bowel movements, so it can often be misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Also, if you’re noticing the need to urinate frequently or having trouble holding on when you have a full bladder, speak to your doctor.
5. Fertility issues
Plenty of women are first diagnosed with endometriosis when they seek treatment for fertility issues. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately one-third to one-half of women with the disease have difficulty getting pregnant.
Even though there isn't a “cure” for endometriosis, it's still crucial to know your diagnosis as early as possible. Not only will it help you find the best treatment option possible, but it may give you more time to think about and preserve your fertility.