Endometriosis is a painful condition that happens when the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside the uterus. Called implants, these growths can form in many different areas, including your ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and colon.
Most women with endometriosis experience unusually painful periods, sometimes accompanied by heavy or abnormal bleeding. But depending on where the implants are located, you can have other symptoms, too — symptoms that can be harder to identify.
At his practice in Newburgh, Indiana, Paul W. Morrison, MD, helps women manage endometriosis with treatment options focused on each patient’s specific symptoms and needs. In this post, learn about five subtle endometriosis symptoms that can help you decide if it’s time to seek medical intervention.
While not widely recognized, fatigue is a common “side effect” of endometriosis. Not surprisingly, continual inflammation and chronic pain can take a toll on a woman both physically and emotionally, leading to persistent feelings of tiredness and a lower quality of life.
Some women with fatigue may also experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. Without adequate rest, a woman’s ability to cope with her painful symptoms diminishes as well.
2. Changes in bowel habits
Sometimes, endometrial implants form on the outer wall of the intestine or in other areas of your belly. When that happens, you can have symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and severe bowel pain, especially when trying to move your bowels.
Even when implants don’t form on the bowel itself, you can still have symptoms like diarrhea and constipation, bloating, increased bowel urgency, and difficulty moving your bowels. In fact, gastrointestinal symptoms are almost as common as symptoms involving your reproductive organs.
3. Changes in urination
Women with endometriosis also tend to experience more urinary tract symptoms, like pain or burning during urination, frequent urges to urinate, difficulty passing urine, and incomplete emptying of the bladder.
These are the same symptoms that happen with a urinary tract infection (UTI), and many women delay seeking treatment for endometriosis simply because they attribute their symptoms to a UTI.
4. Painful sex
Also called dyspareunia, pain during sex is another potential symptom associated with endometriosis. In fact, at least half of women with endometriosis experience pain during penetrative sex.
Painful symptoms can occur deep within the vaginal canal or near the vulva or entrance to the vagina. Pain can range from sharp, stabbing sensations to a dull, persistent ache.
This symptom may be associated with implants located near or on the vagina, and it can also be caused by scar tissue that impairs normal movement and flexibility in the region. Inflammation also plays a role.
5. Trouble getting pregnant
Infertility is a common consequence of endometriosis. While not being able to conceive might not seem like a subtle sign, for women who don’t know they have endometriosis, having trouble getting pregnant can be their very first symptom.
Infertility issues can happen when implants attach to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or outer uterine wall, causing inflammation and scar tissue that can interfere with conception. Inflammation can also trigger symptoms in your immune system, making your body less “hospitable” for pregnancy.
Help for women with endometriosis
Recognizing the subtle symptoms of endometriosis plays an important role in making sure you get the care and attention you need as soon as possible. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, call 812-490-5200 or book an appointment online with the practice of Dr. Paul W. Morrison today and learn about treatments that can help.