7 Signs of Endometriosis
As we come to the end of Endometriosis Awareness Month, let’s take a look at some of the signs of endometriosis. This often overlooked condition is actually very common, affecting 10% of us worldwide. However, lack of awareness around endometriosis leads to delays in diagnosis, and stops those with the condition from getting the treatment they need. Join us as we take a closer look at some of the signs of endometriosis….
1. Chronic pain
Endometriosis happens when tissue that’s similar to the tissue in the uterus grows in the areas outside of the uterus such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the abdominal cavities. One of the most reported symptoms of endometriosis is the pain it causes. Those with endometriosis may feel pain in their lower back or abdomen, and this can be worse during their period.
Many of us experience discomfort or period cramps around menstruation. However, chronic pain is severe and persistent. It can get in the way of our everyday lives and stop us from going to work or doing the things we enjoy in our free time. Chronic pain should never go uninvestigated, and very painful periods can be a sign of an underlying cycle condition so it’s always worth seeking medical advice.
2. Heavier periods
When it comes to bleeding, all our flows are different. Some of us have a light, short, period, while others may experience heavier bleeding, clotting, and longer periods. While they can be a part of a healthy menstrual cycle, heavier periods are another symptom of endometriosis.
Keep an eye out for other symptoms, and if you’re experiencing very long, painful periods, or if you find your periods are getting in the way of your life, talk to a healthcare professional for advice and treatment options.
3. Irregular cycles
While we’re often led to believe a normal menstrual cycle is around 28 days in length, cycle length can also vary a lot between individuals. A bit of variation is normal - in fact our cycles naturally change in length as we get older. However, in some cases, irregular cycles can also be a sign of an underlying condition. For example, a shorter cycle with a longer period can be a sign of endometriosis. Keep in mind there are other cycle conditions such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and fibroids that are also linked to irregular cycles.
Keeping track of your cycle and period length can be a useful way to get to know your cycle better. As well as tracking cycle length, you can also log any symptoms you experience throughout your cycle such as pain and mood changes. Cycle tracking not only gives you increased knowledge of your own reproductive health, but it also provides you with a tool to collect data on your own cycle irregularities to share with your gynecologist or doctor.
4. Pain during sex
Dyspareunia is the name for pain during sex. There are many things that can lead to painful intercourse including anxiety and lack of sexual arousal. Pelvic pain during sex can be a sign of several conditions including endometriosis.
You should never feel like you have to endure painful sex. Clear communication with your partner about what does and doesn’t feel good can help prevent discomfort. If you regularly experience pain during sex it’s best to seek medical advice to get the right support and rule out any medical conditions that might be causing pain.
5. Tummy troubles
While physical symptoms like heavier and more painful periods may seem to have an obvious link to cycle conditions like endometriosis, there are other physical signs that are considered to be endometriosis symptoms too. These include diarrhea, constipation, and feeling like you’re going to throw up.
Endometriosis is known to affect the bowel and can cause an upset stomach as a result. Symptoms can vary throughout the cycle, but may be worse in the days before and/or during menstruation.
While there are many physical symptoms of endometriosis, these only tell half of the story. This condition can also affect mood - leading to depression and a lack of energy. Physical symptoms can have a knock-on effect, but cycle conditions have their own set of emotional or psychological symptoms too. These physical and emotional symptoms are tied closely together, making managing cycle conditions such as endometriosis even more difficult.
Many of us may experience mood changes in the days before our periods - this is called PMS (premenstrual syndrome) which is caused by changes in hormone levels. There is also a severe form of PMS called PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Symptoms of PMDD include extremely low moods, losing interest in activities you usually enjoy, and suicidal thoughts. If you are experiencing a very low mood in connection with your cycle, this isn’t something you should have to put up with - talk to a healthcare professional to get professional advice and treatment.
7. Difficulty getting pregnant
While endometriosis affects 10% of women worldwide of all ages, it doesn’t always present with obvious symptoms. Many of us may not experience any physical or emotional symptoms and may only get a diagnosis of endometriosis later in our fertility journeys.
Unfortunately, there are links between fertility issues and endometriosis. Endometriosis can alter the reproductive system in several ways, and you might need to have a consultation with a doctor to gauge the severity of endometriosis to understand if fertility treatment is required.
Many individuals with endometriosis manage to conceive naturally - but it can take more time. If you have been trying to get pregnant for more than 12 months but haven’t conceived yet, talk to your doctor to learn more about diagnosis, treatment, and ways to alleviate symptoms.
Get to know your body better
Thanks for reading our 7 signs of endometriosis. Here at Natural Cycles, we’re passionate about reproductive health. We want to turn the spotlight on female health and highlight topics that until now have been shrouded in misinformation and stigma.
The Natural Cycles app can also give you unique insights into your own menstrual cycle. By taking your temperature and adding it into the app, the app’s algorithm can get to know your cycle and tell you when you’re fertile. You can then either use this info to plan or prevent pregnancy completely hormone-free. You’ll also receive tailored insights such as PMS alerts and self-breast check reminders.
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