Despite affecting one out of every 10 women in the United States, endometriosis often goes undiagnosed for years. The pelvic pain most women complain of when they experience this common gynecological condition is frequently dismissed as something else, like menstrual pain.
At Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC, in Grand Island and Hastings, Nebraska, our team of women’s health experts understands the frustration our patients feel when their health care provider dismisses their pain as normal or nothing to worry about.
Knowledge is power. Recognizing some of the telltale symptoms of endometriosis can help point you in the right direction so you get the answers you need now instead of years from now.
1. Painful periods
Endometriosis is a gynecological condition in which endometrial-like tissue grows outside the uterus. As a result, many women with endometriosis experience severe pain during their period, which may worsen over time.
Each month, your uterus grows endometrial tissue in preparation for pregnancy. When you don’t get pregnant, your body sheds the lining through your period.
With endometriosis, the endometrial-like tissue grows and sheds like the uterine lining, but it has no place to go. This causes inflammation and pain that progressively gets worse.
2. Gastrointestinal issues
Endometriosis may also cause gastrointestinal (GI) issues like bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. Unfortunately, these symptoms are similar to common digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
If you have these GI symptoms, you may seek guidance from your primary care provider or a gastroenterologist before talking to your OB/GYN, delaying your diagnosis.
3. Abnormal bleeding
Many women have abnormal bleeding — heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding in between your periods, or an irregular menstrual cycle. Though abnormal bleeding is common with many gynecological conditions, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and fibroids, it’s also one of the telltale symptoms of endometriosis.
Because abnormal bleeding can occur with serious health issues like gynecological cancers, it’s not a symptom you should ignore or dismiss. If you have any abnormal bleeding, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN right away.
4. Problems getting pregnant
Over time, the inflammation caused by the endometrial growths may lead to the development of scar tissue. This scar tissue affects the structure and function of your reproductive organs, making it more difficult for you to get pregnant and causing problems like infertility.
5. Chronic pelvic or low back pain
Chronic pelvic pain or lower back pain is also common in women with endometriosis. Again, this type of pain may get misdiagnosed as something else or just be considered an unfortunate side effect of being a woman.
Though pain is a common theme for women with endometriosis, the type of your pain doesn’t necessarily determine the severity of your disease. You can have severe endometriosis and no pain at all, or have only a few growths and debilitating pain. In either case, a proper diagnosis gives you a chance to understand the cause of your symptoms and take steps to manage them.
Though there are telltale signs of endometriosis, every woman’s experience is different. If you have concerns about your gynecological health, the team at Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC, can provide the answers you need. Call our office today or request an appointment online.