Symptoms of Endometriosis

The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain. This pain manifests in many ways.

  1. Painful periods ( during the first couple of days ). Patients usually describe this like a sharp stabbing pain sometimes radiating to the lower  back and down the legs, or around the groin and lower abdomen
  2. Mid cycle pain ( during ovulation )
  3. Painful sex.
  4. Constipation and bloating (the dreaded endo belly)
  5. Pain while urinating (bladder endometriosis)
  6. Shoulder pain or difficulty breathing ( in rare cases of diaphragmatic endometriosis)

About 1/3rd of women with endometriosis also suffer from subfertility. Endometriosis does not equal infertility. It just implies that some women may have a harder time becoming pregnant. Endometriosis causes adhesions and scar tissue which cause the internal organs to get stuck to each other. This may result in blockage of tubes or ovaries. Once the endometriosis is treated then women can usually conceive naturally without any assisted reproductive techniques.

Endometriosis can only be diagnosed and treated via laparoscopy provided the surgeon knows what to look for.

However, this is an expensive, invasive procedure. Furthermore, if the surgeon is not a specialist in endometriosis s/he may not recognise the disease, which can result in a “negative”diagnosis (ie. you may be told that you have not got endometriosis, even if you do, because the surgeon was unable to visually recognise the disease, and if no biopsy was taken). And, not everyone wants to undergo surgery.

This makes diagnosing endometriosis a challenge, and therefore an experienced gynaecologist should be able to recognise symptoms suggestive of endometriosis through talking with the patient and obtaining a history of her symptoms . For this to be effective, it is important that the patient is honest with her physician about all of her symptoms and the pattern of these.

An ultrasound, MRI and CA125 levels are some of the other tests that may be performed.

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