Endometriosis symptoms can be debilitating. It is a painful condition where the cells that normally line the uterus begin growing in other parts of your body. This causes a range of endometriosis symptoms that tend to come on in line with your cycle
Endometriosis is classified into different stages including mild, moderate and severe. Mild is characterised by mild scaring and superficial implants. Moderate to severe has more significant lesions, cysts and scaring. But the severity of symptoms does not seem to be related to the stage. Although infertility is more common with more severe endometriosis.
The primary symptom is pain. The pain can be anywhere from slight and annoying to completely debilitating. The type of pain can be dull and achy or it can be a sharp, stabbing pain.
The pain is usually in the pelvic area, but it can occur in any other area where the endometrial cells have taken root such as the bladder or bowel. Pain will typically worsen just before menstruation and reduce after it. This is because changing hormone levels encourages endometrial lining changes around your period. And the same thing happens to endometrial cells growing elsewhere in your body.
The nature and level of the pain can change from month-to-month with your cycle too. And the location of the endometrial lesions can affect where you feel the pain. For example if you have lesions on your bowel, this is where you’ll feel the pain. Or if the scaring is closer to a nerve supply, you may feel more pain. Typical pain you may experience are:
- Lower abdomen pain
- Lower back pain
- Leg pain – due to the nerves that feed your leg being affected
- Bowel pain when going to the toilet
- Painful urination
- Ovary pain – when ovulating
- Pain during intercourse – often a stabbing pain that can last a few days afterwards
Adhesions and scaring can form on your ovaries or in your fallopian tubes to affect your fertility. This can stop your eggs from meeting sperm. It can also stop your fertilised egg from being implanted in your uterus. IVF may be required to conceive in such cases.
Endometriosis can result in inflammation that can affect ovulation, egg fertilisation and implantation of the embryo.
Estimates have suggested that 20 to 50% of women suffering infertility have endometriosis.
- Really long or very heavy periods
- Inter-period bleeding
- Strong migraines during your period
- Bad allergies during your period
- Chronic tiredness
- Loose bowels/diarrhoea
- Blood in your urine