Many women only ever experience one or two minor episodes of endometriosis so the disease has little effect on their lives. However, for some women endometriosis is a chronic condition that has a marked impact on all aspects of their lives.
Difficulties being heard
Many women with endometriosis seek help from doctors for several years before being diagnosed. During this time they experience many emotions, including fear, confusion and humiliation, particularly when told by their families, friends and GPs that their symptoms -
- Are ‘all in their head’
- Are ‘normal’
- Are part of ‘being a woman’
- Are due to something else such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome or ovarian cysts
Many women with endometriosis experience depression and/or a ‘roller-coaster ride’ of emotions due to -
The bowel symptoms of endometriosis are often overlooked or dismissed because many people think endometriosis affects only the reproductive organs. Most bowel symptoms are caused by irritation to the bowel from endometrial implants lying on adjacent areas such as the pouch of Douglas and the back of the uterus but some are due to endometrial deposits lying on the outside of the bowel wall. Bowel symptoms due to endometriosis include diarrhoea, constipation, alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation, painful bowel movements, abdominal bloating, nausea and vomiting
Several bleeding symptoms – heavy bleeding, clotting and premenstrual spotting – are associated with endometriosis. Blood loss is considered heavy if it interferes with normal lifestyle or requires changing of sanitary pads and tampons every three hours or less. Pre-menstrual spotting is the loss of small amounts of dark, brownish-red blood before the period itself begins.
Cyclical abdominal bloating
Cyclical abdominal bloating may be a symptom of endometriosis. It is thought to be due to inflammation in the pelvic cavity caused by the endometriosis.
Fatigue is often not recognised as a symptom of endometriosis but it can be one of the most debilitating aspects of the condition. Most women with endometriosis experience fatigue around the time of their period and some experience it throughout the month.
Infertility is one of the better known symptoms of endometriosis even though it is one of the less common symptoms. Sometimes infertility is the result of damage to the ovaries and fallopian tubes caused by severe endometriosis. However, in most cases it is not understood how endometriosis may reduce a woman’s fertility. Many women with endometriosis who are infertile do not have any other symptoms of endometriosis so the possibility of endometriosis needs to be considered in any woman who is having difficulty conceiving.