It can be very difficult for a woman, particularly a young woman, to recognize the symptoms of endometriosis. Often the disease goes undiagnosed for years, only to be discovered when a patient presents with infertility or symptoms that have become very severe. The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain in the lower abdomen, the pelvis, or the lower back, mainly during menstrual periods. However, the amount of pain a woman feels does not depend on how much endometriosis she has. Some women have no pain, even though their disease affects large areas. Other women with endometriosis have severe pain even though they have only a few small growths.
What are the "6 Cardinal Symptoms of Endometriosis?"
Dysmenorrhea (painful periods): Cramping usually points to a uterine source while pain and aches point to the peritoneum and ligaments. Endometriosis pain does not disappear in one day. The duration of pain associated with endometriosis usually continues more than two days, and can even persist after the period is over. Pain from endometriosis characteristically does not respond well to analgesics and birth control pills. More than 3 out of 4 women with endometriosis have a history of incredibly painful, crampy periods that can be traced back to their adolescence. The event of ovulation (on day 14 of the reproductive cycle) is often very painful in patients with endometriosis. As an individual gets older there may be non-menstrual pelvic pain in the picture. Since pain is considered a subjective vital sign, the nature of its description varies from one individual to the other. Association and overlapping with other symptoms, like bowel movements frequency, gas around and during periods, constipation, diarrhea, and painful bowel movements, are all part of the symptom chain of endometriosis. Therefore, the nature, duration, radiation of painful periods and its association with other symptoms are important in making clinical decisions in ruling out other pelvic disorders.
GI abnormalities: The second cardinal symptom of endometriosis is the gastrointestinal triad of bloatedness, gassiness, and cramps associated with or without diarrhea, and constipation, which is more pronounced around menstruation.
Dyspareunia (painful sex) and painful orgasm: Painful sex, the fourth cardinal symptom, is at times positional and usually involves deep involvement of endometriosis in the rectovaginal septum and pelvic walls. This symptom often leads to intimacy issues, as intercourse starts to become something a woman will dread as opposed to enjoy. Thus, if your partner suffers from endometriosis and is experiencing dyspareunia it is important to be kind, supportive and always keep in mind the endometriosis pain they very well may be going through.
Painful bowel movements: Like dyspareunia, this fifth cardinal symptom may point to a deeper involvement of endometriosis to the rectovaginal septum and pelvic lateral walls. However, painful bowel movements and painful sex have different series of symptomatology when the lateral pelvic walls are affected at the deeper levels, along with the ureters, arteries, and nerves.
Neuropathy: The nerves may be directly involved or stimulated mostly by surrounding pathology due to swelling and scarring that changes the microcosm of the retroperitoneum (space in the abdomen behind the peritoneum) as well as direct involvement of the nerves. Symptoms naturally differ from one patient to another according to the varying location of the lesions. From changes of sensory feelings to radiating pain to the back, lumbosacral area, inner thigh and along the track of sciatica nerve. Some of these patients cannot cross their legs and even their walking and gait are affected.
Infertility: Last but not least, the most frequent yet most elusive symptom of endometriosis is infertility, defined as both the difficulty to conceive and difficulty in holding pregnancy. Due to its silent nature, we sometimes refer to this as “cardinal symptom 0” of Endometriosis. Complex immunobiological factors both at the cellular and antibody levels are involved. Inflammatory toxins that arise because of endometrioma scar tissue, do not allow the sperm and egg to naturally mate. Endometriosis visibly causes tubal dysmorphism and ovarian pathology in the form of micro endometriomas and adhesions that serve as barriers to a successful pregnancy. Unable to get pregnant, many patients are unnecessarily treated with in-vitro treatments without their endometriosis ever being addressed.
What is the complete list of Symptoms for endometriosis?
Not all women will have all of the following symptoms, however, if you are exhibiting any of these symptoms and think you may have endometriosis, please consult your doctor.
Dysmenorrhea – painful menstrual cramps often classified as "killer cramps"; pain may get worse over time
Chronic or intermittent pelvic pain
Chronic pain in the lower back
Spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods
Menorrhagia- Heavy bleeding during menstrual cycle
Gastrointestinal pain and discomfort during menstrual cycle
Diarrhea or constipation
Constipation or nausea during your menstrual cycle.
Dyspareunia- pain during or after sex
Painful bowel movements or painful urination during menstrual periods
Blood in urine
Urinary frequency, retention or urgency
Urinary tract difficulties
Neuropathy – nerves affected by advanced cases of the disease and symptoms can include radiating pain to the back, lumbosacral area, inner thigh, legs and along the track of sciatic nerve. Some patients find it difficult to cross their legs, and in some cases, their walking and gait are influenced.
Infertility- the inability to conceive or properly carry a child. This can also include miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy
As we may now all be familiar with the classic symptoms of endometriosis, the signs and the findings of endometriosis are dependent on a physician evaluation, in which a patient’s history will be discussed and a pelvic exam will be conducted. But only you know your body best. If you feel that you have the following symptoms and that endometriosis may be the probable cause, you do not need to suffer in your day to day life.
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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,…
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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,…
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…
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…
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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…
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…
Dr. Seckin brought me back to life! I am now 3 weeks into my recovery after my laparoscopy surgery, and I feel like a new and improved woman! Being diagnosed with Endometriosis, then 25yrs old in 2015, and discovering the severity of my case being stage 4, made me devastated. Dr. Seckin's vast knowledge of the disease, sincere empathy, and…