Ever wonder why it seems like your period is worse than your friends’ or family members’? Why is it so much easier for others to deal with that time of the month? Does your period make you miss out on school, sports, career, relationships or social events? You could be living with endometriosis. Learn more about the condition from our friends at The Endometriosis Foundation of America.
Not everyone will experience all symptoms of endometriosis—some women may be asymptomatic and suffer no pain. Others may have a few symptoms to begin with and develop others over the years. If you are concerned about your health, here are some main symptoms and questions to ask to find out is it endo?
Pain can last for more than one day and even continue after your period is over. Pain can be felt in the lower stomach, pelvis or lower back. The pain is not easily relieved with medicine such as Advil, Tylenol, or Midol.
A typical period will last 3 to 5 days, but can last up to 7 days. However, women with endometriosis can have periods that last longer than 7 days or find themselves having multiple, full periods, throughout the month.
Heavy menstrual flow
If you have endo, your tampons or pads may need to be changed as often as every 1-2 hours.
Bowel and urinary problems
You can get diarrhea, constipation, painful urination or bowel movements, blood in urine, and frequent urge to urinate. Women can also feel nausea, vomiting, bloated and gassiness.
Many women with endometriosis express feeling overwhelmingly tired—especially during a “flare up” when symptoms are at their worst. While there is no direct medical research on how endometriosis causes fatigue, many living with the disease speculate that the amount of energy one’s body uses simply managing chronic pain leads to feelings of exhaustion. To be in pain regularly can be physically and mentally draining.
Back and upper leg pain
Some endometriosis patients experience chronic pain beyond areas where endometriosis tissue is found, most often in the back and upper leg area. Because of the location of the pain women often end discussing this type of pain with a chiropractor and physical therapist who might not be able to catch that it is linked to a reproductive health issue. If you experience chronic back or leg pain, especially around your period, consult your gynecologist.
Pain during sexual activities
While also being a symptom of endometriosis involving deeper tissues of vaginal and pelvic walls, painful sex can lead to relationship and body issues. Women can start to become anxious and even fearful of having sex, partners can become worried about hurting their partner. Conversation is crucial.
As endometria scar tissues and lesions build up, it decreases the chances of fertilization to occur. It has been found that endometriosis is linked to 1/3 infertility cases.
Artwork by Jenny Oh