5 Signs You Might Have Endometriosis

5 Signs You Might Have Endometriosis

by Amy Marturana

Abdominal pain, heavy periods, menstrual cramps, and painful sex just sound like some of the routine burdens of being a woman. Monthly pains and annoyances around menstruation are a given, and painful sex is (unfortunately) very normal for many. But these symptoms are also hallmark signs of endometriosis, a severely painful and under-diagnosed medical condition that affects about 10 percent of women.

Endometriosis happens when endometrial tissue, which normally lines the inside of the uterus, grows elsewhere in the body, like on the ovaries or in the fallopian tubes. This abnormal growth causes an inflammatory response, and "this tissue is then able to reproduce itself as part of an inflammatory process," Tamer Seckin, M.D., an NYC-based gynecologist who specializes in treating women with endometriosis, co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, and author of Recognizing and Treating Endometriosis, tells SELF. "We don’t know exactly how it gets there," he adds, though genetics seem to play a role. Whether your case is considered mild, moderate, or severe depends on how widespread the growths are.

Endometriosis affects women during their fertile years, so after their first period, but before menopause. It's estimated that one in 10 girls and women in the U.S. suffer from it, but many are never diagnosed or are misdiagnosed for years. Endometriosis can cause serious pain and is a one of the leading causes of infertility, so learning you have it is important so you can take full control of your sexual and reproductive health.

These are the most common symptoms of endometriosis that all women of child-bearing age need to be aware of.

1. Heavy periods

Many women with endometriosis experience extremely heavy periods and may even notice clots in their period blood. When you get your period, the endometrial growths react to menstrual hormonesfrom your ovaries the same way the lining of your uterus does, so they grow and bleed, too. As endometrial growths get bigger over time, they can bleed even more.

"Many endometriosis patients' symptoms start very early in their menstrual life," Seckin says. The Mayo Clinic notes the condition usually develops a few years after the first period, so women with endometriosis may just think that's what a normal period is supposed to look and feel like.

2. Abdominal pain, especially during your period

Pelvic pain is typically the most obvious symptom of endometriosis. Some people may have chronic pain that never goes away, but it usually gets particularly bad right before and during menstruation. When endometrial tissue bleeds in places where it can't (or can't easily) exit your body, it can cause swelling and pain, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains. This cramping pain is usually most intense in the lower abdomen and lower back—like regular period cramps but way worse. "The pain could be localized, but it could also cause a shooting pain into the groin, back, or rectum," Seckin explains.

In more moderate to severe cases, some women may develop blood-filled cysts, called endometriomas. If they rupture, they can be extremely painful and cause heavy bleeding.

Some women experience very little pain, though, so they never visit a doctor for help—having a more severe case doesn't necessarily mean you'll experience more pain. This is one of the reasons endometriosis is so under-diagnosed. Other women may experience pain but never say anything, writing it off as just bad period cramps. "There are some who either suppress or don’t articulate their symptoms because they don’t want to admit they have a problem until it really interferes with their life," Seckin says.

3. Gastrointestinal pain

Endometriosis can cause constipation, diarrhea, intestinal pain, and pain with bowel movements. These symptoms also look a lot like a gastrointestinal problem or a food intolerance, which is why endometriosis is often confused with IBS. "Many women with endometriosis go for intense bowel workups and colonoscopies, and they're given special diets," Seckin says, in an attempt to alleviate a GI problem. Sometimes IBS can accompany endometriosis, which can make a diagnosis that much more complicated. While good bowel health could have a positive effect on some types of endometriosis pain, it's not going to make it disappear.

4. Painful intercourse

Painful sex is another big indicator of endometriosis. The pain can happen during sex, right after, or even continue into the day after, Seckin says. "Pain with orgasm is common, but people don’t usually articulate it," he adds. Sex can be even more painful before or during your period, when the tissue becomes most inflamed.

There are plenty of other things that can make sex painful (like not being lubed up enough or even having a hidden STD), but when it's combined with any other abdominal pain, endometriosis could be the culprit. "If someone is having painful periods and bowel movements, and pain during sexual intimacy, it’s a very prognostic sign and highly implies endometriosis," Seckin says.

5. Infertility

Up to 50 percent of women with endometriosis experience infertility. It's actually possible that the only symptom of the disease you have is infertility. For many women, they don't learn that they have endometriosis until they start having trouble getting pregnant and go in for a full fertility workup. "A lot of women come to us, after spending tens of thousands of dollars on IVF and other failed fertility treatments, with no relevant symptoms," Seckin says, "and you can find every degree of endometriosis."

"If you fail two or three rounds of IVF, especially if you have painful periods, definitely go and be checked," Seckin recommends. (The only true way to diagnose endometriosis is a procedure called laparoscopy, where you're put under anesthesia and a small incision is made and the tissue is actually examined.) Depending on how severe your case is, removing the endometrial tissue completely can increase your chances of conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to term. Take your health into your own hands, and ask your doctor about endometriosis if you think you're suffering from it.

Endometriosis, Infertility, Sexual And Reproductive Health

Source: //www.self.com/story/5-signs-you-might-have-endometriosis


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  • Sheena Wright

    I underwent surgery with Dr. Seckin in 2017 and have felt like a new woman ever since. If you have, or suspect you have endometriosis, Dr. Seckin and his compassionate team of surgeons and staff are a must-see.

  • Angela Aro

    I have struggled with endometriosis and adenomyosis since first starting my period at 13. I was diagnosed at 21 and what followed was a series of unsuccessful surgeries and treatments. My case was very aggressive and involved my urinary tract system and my intestines. After exhausting all of my local doctors I was lucky enough to find Dr. Seckin. We…

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    Seckin and Dr. Goldstein changed my life!

  • Kristin Sands

    Like so many women who have tirelessly sought a correct diagnosis and proper, thorough medical treatment for endometriosis, I found myself 26 years into this unwanted journey without clear answers or help from four previous gynecological doctors and two emergency laparoscopic surgeries. I desperately wanted to avoid the ER again; a CT scan for appendicitis also revealed a likely endometrioma…

  • Wilfredo Reyes

    Dr. Seckin literally gave my wife her life back. I am eternally grateful to him for his generous, determined spirit to see that Melanie finally live free from the prison bonds of Endometriosis.

  • Carla

    I am so grateful to Dr Seckin and Dr. Goldstein. My experience was nothing short of amazing. I was misdiagnosed with the location of my fibroids and have had a history of endometriosis. Dr. Seckin was the one who accurately diagnosed me. Dr Seckin and Dr. Goldstein really care about their patients and it shows. They listened to my concerns,…

  • Melissa Boudreau

    When I think of Dr. Seckin these are the words that come to mind. Gratitude, grateful, life-changing, a heart of gold. I feel compelled to give you a bit of background so you can understand the significance of this surgery for me. I am passionate about Endometriosis because it has affected me most of my life and I have a…

  • Jaclyn Harte

    Dr. Seckin and Dr. Goldstein radically changed my quality of life. They treat their patients with dignity & respect that I've personally never seen in the literally 25+ doctors I've seen for endometriosis. This summer, I had a surgery with Dr. Seckin & Goldstein. It was my first with them, but my 5th endo surgery. I couldn't believe the difference,…

  • Megan Rafael Moreno

    I was in pain for 2 years. I was getting no answers, and because dr Goldstein and dr seckins were willing to see and treat me I'm finally feeling almost back to normal. They were very down to earth and helpful in my time of need. Dr Goldstein was easy to talk to and caring, she took care of me…

  • Nancy Costa

    Dr. Seckin is one of the best endometriosis surgeon. Every time I go to the office, he really listens to me and is always concerned about my issues. Dr Seckin's office staff are a delight and they always work with me. I feel I can leave everything to them and they will take care of it. Thank you to the…

  • Rebecca Black

    Fast forward 5 years to find out incidentally I had a failing kidney. My left kidney was only functioning at 18%. During this time, I was preparing all my documents to send to Dr. Seckin to review. However, with this new information I put everything on hold and went to a urologist. After a few months, no one could figure…

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    I'll never stop praising Dr. Seckin and his team. He literally gave me back my life.

  • Erin Brehm

    I had a wonderful experience working with Dr. Seckin and his team before, during and after my surgery. I came to Dr. Seckin having already had laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis 5 years prior, with a different surgeon. My symptoms and pain had returned, making my life truly challenging and my menstrual cycle unbearable. Dr. Seckin was quick to validate my…

  • Anita Schillhorn

    I came to Dr. Seckin after years of dealing with endometriosis and doctors who didn't fully understand the disease. He quickly ascertained what needed to be done, laid out the options along with his recommendation and gave me the time to make the right decision for me. My surgery went without a hitch and I'm healing very well. He and…