The most common symptom of endometriosis is severe pain before and during menstruation (periods). The pain is more severe than “normal” period cramps and it not relieved with basic pain medication. The pain can last for days. It is important to realise that to experience extreme pain with your period is not “normal”. If you have missed a family or social event due to pain, endometriosis should be considered.
Endometriosis is defined as the presence of endometrial-like tissue outside the uterus (Kennedy et al., 2005). Endometriosis triggers a chronic inflammatory reaction resulting in pain and adhesions.
Adhesions develop when scar tissue attaches separate structures or organs together. The activity and the complaints due to endometriosis may vary during the woman’s menstrual cycle as hormone levels fluctuate. Consequently, symptoms may be worse at certain times in the cycle, particularly just prior to and during the woman’s menstrual period. While some women with endometriosis experience severe pelvic pain, others have no symptoms at all or regard their symptoms as simply being ‘ordinary menstrual pain’.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
The classical symptoms of endometriosis are:
- Dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation (pain in or around periods)
- Nonmenstrual pelvic pain or pain occurring when a woman is not menstruating. (pain at other times of the month)
- Dyspareunia or painful intercourse (painful sexual activity, pain after sex)
- Cyclical intestinal complaints: periodic bloating, diarrhoea or constipation worse at the time of period
- Cyclical dyschezia, painful or difficult defecation (bowel movements) worse at the time of period
- Cyclical dysuria, painful urination, worse at the time of period
- Cyclical hematuria, or the presence of blood in the urine, worse at the time of period
- Cyclical rectal bleeding, worse at the time of period
- Cyclical shoulder pain, worse at time of period
- Any other cyclical symptom associated with period
Cyclical symptoms are symptoms that develop a few days before a woman’s menstruation and disappear a few days after her menstruation has stopped, or symptoms that occur only during the menstruation. The symptoms reappear the next month, following the woman’s menstrual cycle.
Some symptoms are frequently reported by women with endometriosis, however, it is unclear whether these symptoms are actually caused by endometriosis. Some of these symptoms may be indicative of other diseases or be side effects of treatment, but some may also be related to endometriosis (although these were not yet examined in clinical studies).
These symptoms include:
- Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
- Weight Gain
- Fungal Infections
- Cardiac Arrhythmia
- (Lower)Back Pain
- Radiating pain
- Pain during ovulation
If you experience these symptoms, please also mention these to your doctor.