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What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

Endometriosis is an ongoing (chronic) and usually progressive disease. The rate of progression varies widely from woman to woman. Infertility or pain may be the only symptoms. Pain from endometriosis may start as mild discomfort a few days before the menstrual period or be unrelated to the menstrual cycle. Pelvic pain, which feels like period pain, is the most common symptom of endometriosis. The symptoms can vary, with some women having no symptoms at all, while others have severe pain. The pain usually occurs around the time of a period, but in some women pelvic pain can be constant. It may be felt on one side of the body, in the middle or on both sides.

Some women find that sexual intercourse before or during a period is painful. There may also be changes to periods, such as a small loss of blood before the period is due (spotting), irregular bleeding or heavy periods. Endometriosis on the bowel or bladder may cause swelling of the lower abdomen and pain when going to the toilet, or blood in the stools during a period. Symptoms of endometriosis often disappear during pregnancy or after the menopause. In some women, difficulty becoming pregnant is the first sign of endometriosis.

The most common symptom noted by women with endometriosis is pelvic pain that is worse just before menstruation, which then improves at the end of your period. Other common symptoms are pain during menstruation, pain with sexual intercourse, and infertility. The age at which endometriosis develops varies considerably. Some adolescent women note painful menstruation when their periods first begin. This condition is later diagnosed as endometriosis, while other women are in their 20s, 30s, or older before endometriosis is diagnosed.

Women often describe the pain as a constant, aching pain that is deep and often spreads to both sides of the pelvic region, the lower back, abdomen, and buttocks. In the early course of the disease, pain may only occur around menstruation. However, as the severity of the disease progresses and damage occurs to internal structures, pain may occur for longer periods of time and eventually may occur every day. Many women with endometriosis have no finding on physical examination, and symptoms provide the only clues to the diagnosis. Although physical examination findings cannot positively diagnose endometriosis, your doctor may find pelvic nodules that are tender during a physical exam or masses in your ovaries that are common signs of the condition. An entity known as an endometrioma may develop. This is an area of endometriosis on the ovary that has become enlarged. When the center of this fills with blood, it is known as a chocolate cyst. Chocolate cysts can become very painful, mimicking the symptoms of other ovarian problems.

More information on endometriosis

What is endometriosis? - Endometriosis is a disorder in which bits of tissue from the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grow inside a woman's body, outside of the uterus.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis? - The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain that is worse just before menstruation. Other common symptoms are pain during menstruation, pain with sexual intercourse, and infertility.
What causes endometriosis? - Dring menstruation some of the menstrual tissue backs up through the fallopian tubes, implants in the abdomen, and grows. Endometriosis may result from retrograde menstrual flow.
How is endometriosis diagnosed? - The diagnosis of endometriosis cannot be made from symptoms alone. The only way to know for sure that you have the condition is by having surgery. The most common type of surgery is called laparoscopy.
What is the treatment for endometriosis? - Endometriosis that causes only mild symptoms usually does not require medical treatment. Treatment may include medications to shrink the implants, laparoscopy to destroy implants, or surgery to remove the uterus and ovaries.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005