How many of you were diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) before endometriosis was finally discovered?
Endometriosis has been mistaken for IBS for decades, and while there are clearly issues with that misdiagnosis, the digestive and stomach issues associated with endometriosis are undeniable.
One of the earliest symptoms of endometriosis can be bloating, diarrhoea and nausea which although often uncomfortable are often passed
While known endometriosis symptoms were vaguer in the past, we now have a wider variety of symptoms, which includes various stomach conditions. Endometriosis UK lists these as painful bowel movements, bleeding from the bowel, and symptoms of irritable bowel (diarrhea, constipation, bloating — particularly during your period).
IBS-like symptoms with endometriosis can also indicate that the disease has spread to the bowel area. Two main types of bowel endometriosis exist: Superficial endometriosis, in which growths are found on the outer surface of the bowel, and deep bowel endometriosis, when the disease penetrates the bowel wall and can be found internally. In some patients, recto-vaginal nodules may first begin as superficial but could move into the bowel wall over time. Usually, with a form of bowel endometriosis, your IBS symptoms will become further aggravated or painful nearer to and during your period.
Endometriosis UK says bowel endometriosis symptoms include painon opening the bowels, deep pelvic pain during sex, and rectal bleeding during a period. However, if you’re concerned you may have bowel endometriosis but you don’t have all these symptoms, please don’t dismiss it. We’re all different, and endometriosis can be symptomless for some people.
Having said all of this, endometriosis can still cause you IBS-like symptoms without it touching your bowel. Equally, while we know that many women suffer from bloating and sensitivities, there’s still not much research into why this occurs. If you visit a specialist for endometriosis, they often treat the disease with surgery, hormones, and painkillers. But this won’t necessarily help with your stomach issues, and in fact, painkillers are known to aggravate these problems.
Another issue that the general population struggles with is the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in our guts. Antibiotics, processed food, and excess ingredients like sugar are causing imbalances that affect not only our digestion but even our mental health. Hence addressing stomach issues in endo sufferers is vital for ongoing management.