The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, which can get worse during the menstrual period. Although it is quite common for some women to experience cramping during their monthly menstrual cycle, women with endometriosis describe menstrual pain that is much worse than normal. They may also report that the pain has increased in recent years or months.
The most common symptoms and signs of endometriosis can include:
• Pelvic pain and cramping
• Painful periods (dysmenorrhea.) Pain and cramping during menstruation may begin before the cycle and extend several days into the menstrual cycle, causing lower back pain as well as abdominal pain.
• Pain during sexual intercourse. Pain can occur during and/or after sex, and is a common endometriosis symptom.
• Pain during urination or bowel movements. These symptoms can be heightened during your period.
• Excessive bleeding. Heavy periods (menorrhagia) can accompany endometriosis, as well as occurrences of bleeding between periods (menometrorrhagia.)
• Diarrhea, constipation, nausea or extreme bloating, especially during the menstrual cycle.
• Fatigue and/or dizziness during the menstrual cycle.
• Infertility. Endometriosis is often first diagnosed in women who are seeking out treatment for fertility issues.
While pain is common with endometriosis, the severity level of pain isn't always a reliable indicator of endometriosis or the extent of the condition. Every woman is different. Some women with a mild case of endometriosis have more extensive pain, while others who have advanced endometriosis can have very little pain and even no pain whatsoever.
Endometriosis can sometimes be mistaken for various other conditions that have pelvic pain as a primary symptom, such as ovarian cysts or pelvic inflammatory disease. It can also be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a condition characterized by bouts of abdominal cramping, diarrhea and constipation. However, IBS can also accompany endometriosis, so this can complicate an accurate diagnosis.
If you have symptoms or signs that may indicate endometriosis, it's best to see your doctor. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of chronic or severe pelvic pain, but diagnosing the issue early can help you to avoid unnecessary pain and complications going forward.