Early stages of endometriosis manifest signs that mimic normal bodily changes that take place with the menstrual cycle. For example, endometriosis can cause pain (mild or severe) before and during the menstrual period. Only after time does a woman begins to suspect a problem and the symptoms she feels, are not normal. Symptoms of endometriosis are usually relieved after menopause.
Common symptoms of endometriosis
Commonly a woman experiencing endometriosis will experience a gradual and steady increase of pain during the menstrual cycle. This symptom is the first in a gradual decline in general health and the health of the reproductive system. The most common symptoms of endometriosis to look for include:
Bowel problems - Endometriosis can lead to painful bowel movements, diarrhea, constipation, nausea and other intestinal upsets. Endometriosis on the bowel may cause swelling of your lower abdomen, pain during bowel movement or blood in your faeces during a period.
Heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding - Endometriosis can cause more frequent, irregular, prolonged and/or heavy periods.
Fatigue - Feeling tired, exhausted or sluggish much of the time can be a symptom of endometriosis.
Infertility - Women diagnosed with endometriosis have problems getting pregnant between ages 30-40. Infertility is more common as the disease progresses. Infertility may be the result of the endometriosis interfering with the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.
Painful intercourse (dyspareunia) - Women with endometriosis may experience persistent or recurrent pain just before, during and/or after sexual intercourse. Penetration can produce pain in a tender nodule or implant.
Painful menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea) - Severe pain and cramps can manifest right before and during a woman's period. Pain can also occur at other times throughout the menstrual cycle and can be described as a sharp, knife-like or twisting pain in the pelvis.
Painful urination - Endometriosis on the bladder can cause pain when you urinate or blood in your urine during a period.
Other symptoms - Other symptoms commonly associated with endometriosis include:
When to seek help
Call a health professional immediately if you develop sudden, severe pelvic pain. If you experience any of the symptoms above, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Or you can call a health professional to schedule an appointment if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms:
Unfortunately, women who are diagnosed with endometriosis often see many different doctors before receiving a correct diagnosis. One of the main issues is that there is often a delay in diagnosing endometriosis and some women have symptoms for many years before treatment is started. To learn more about the tests and procedures doctors use to diagnose endometriosis, continue reading. We outline what to expect when you visit your doctor in the section on how to diagnose endometriosis and signs symptoms of endometriosis that follows.