Endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease that affects at least 6.3 million women and girls in the U.S. Many women suffer from endometriosis throughout their lives, often misdiagnosed as simply suffering from ‘painful menses’, or with their symptoms ignored completely.
One recent study of several hundred women diagnosed with endometriosis revealed that they had suffered since adolescence, but were undiagnosed until their 40’s.
Endometriosis is a common, painful and for some, debilitating condition. But it CAN be treated.
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10 Common signs of Endometriosis:
1) Monthly menstrual cramping- Cramping that begins before, continues during, and lasts after your menses is the most common symptom of endometriosis.
2) Pelvic pain– Pain that is diffuse, located deep in the pelvis, dull and aching is suggestive of endometriosis. In women with pelvic pain, the rate of endometriosis is 40%-50%. You should never ignore pelvic pain!
3) Back and thigh pain- Pain that begins in the back, radiates to the thighs and may be associated with rectal pressure is suggestive of endometriosis, particularly if associated with #1 and #2.
4) Painful sex and/or pain with deep penetration- Dyspareunia (painful sex) that occurs immediately prior to onset of menses is associated with endometriosis. Endometriosis associated dyspareunia is most intense with deep penetration.
5) Pain with bowel movements- Painful defecation is associated with endometriosis that involves the area behind and between the uterus and large intestine.
6) Pain with urination, urgency or increased frequency– Are associated with a variety of concerns, including endometriosis involving the bladder. Such symptoms should be assessed by a healthcare provider without delay.
7) Abnormal monthly bleeding- Persistent heavy flow, menstrual bleeding lasting longer than 7 days, passing large clots, and/or spotting/bleeding between expected menses are all suggestive of disordered uterine bleeding. There are a variety of potential causes, including endometriosis.
8) Infertility- Often the first (maybe the only) sign of endometriosis is difficulty getting pregnant. Almost 40% of women with infertility have endometriosis. Although many women overcome endometriosis related infertility.
9) Onset in Adolescence- Endometriosis pain can begin with the very first menstrual period. 50% of adolescents with chronic pelvic pain and painful menses have endometriosis. Yet, it is most often diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s .
10) Irritable Bowel Diagnosis- Endometriosis can coexist with, or be misdiagnosed as, irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory disease (Fritz &Speroff, 2011).
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. 2012. Gynecologic Problems: Endometriosis.
Fritz, M., and Speroff, L. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility 8th ed. 2011. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Tharpe, N., Farley, C., Jordan, R.. Clinical practice guidelins for midwifery & women’s health. 4th ed. 2013. Jones & Bartlett Learning.