What are the first signs of endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a long-term health condition where tissue similar to womb lining begins to grow in other parts of the body. Usually in the pelvic region, in rare cases it has been known to develop around the liver and the lungs.

One of the main issues with diagnosing endometriosis is the fact that many of the early signs can be written off as “normal” problems that someone may have during their menstrual cycle.

These symptoms will worsen over time. Nevertheless, the slowness of their onset can make them much more difficult to identify. In fact, it can often take a woman desperately googling “gynaecologist London” and seeing a specialist before a diagnosis can be reached.

However, here are five early signs of endometriosis. 

1. Painful or heavy periods

A woman’s menstrual flow can change throughout her life, and varies drastically from woman to woman. But heavy and painful periods can be an early sign of endometriosis, especially alongside some of the other listed symptoms.

2. Painful bowel movements

There is a misconception that endometriosis only affects the reproductive system. This is not true. A good early sign of the condition can be painful bowel movements, particularly if these are accompanied by abdominal cramping and blood in the stool. These symptoms occur if tissue has begun to develop around the gastrointestinal area.

3. Mood swings 

Endometriosis can elevate a woman’s oestrogen and progesterone levels, causing instabilities in mood. A woman can feel joyful one moment and then crushed the next. Long-term, this can have a significant effect on someone’s ability to enjoy their life.

4. Difficulty getting pregnant

As the tissue often develops around the ovaries and fallopian tubes, it can prevent ovulation from happening. The longer this goes on without detection, the more likely it is that scar tissue will develop, damaging the ovaries. If a woman is struggling to conceive, it could very well be endometriosis that is causing the problem. Infertility is one of the most common and distressing symptoms of endometriosis.  

5. Pain when passing urine

If the endometriosis is in a woman’s bladder, she will experience pain when passing urine, as well as possible blood in her urine. This symptom will be especially prevalent during her period. Usually, these symptoms may be attributed to an infection, but alongside the aforementioned symptoms it could be a symptom of endometriosis.

Not every woman will have every symptom on this list – as there is variation in every woman’s menstrual cycle, there is variation in how every woman experiences endometriosis. However, it is important that those who suspect they have endometriosis see a specialist gynaecologist as soon as possible, to ensure that they get any treatment they need.