9 Endometriosis Symptoms and Risk Factors You Should Know

Endometriosis symptoms vary from woman to woman. Some women will have many symptoms. Others will have no symptoms besides infertility. Some may experience severe pain with menstruation, making diagnosis slightly easier. Others will only have vague, difficult to pinpoint symptoms. They know something is wrong but can't figure out what.

To make things even more confusing, the symptoms of endometriosis can also be caused by other conditions and diseases.

With that being said, the following are potential risk factors and symptoms of endometriosis. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor. Keep in mind that the average time to receive an endometriosis diagnosis is between 7 to 10 years. If you have described your symptoms to your doctor, only to be told it's "in your head," consider seeing someone else.

The only way to diagnose endometriosis is with a laparoscopy. Just reviewing your symptoms or even having an ultrasound isn't enough. Take this quiz to see if you're at risk for endometriosis. 

Woman lying in bed with hands on stomach, cramps from endometriosis
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Painful menstrual cramps may be a sign of endometriosis. However, menstrual cramps can be caused by other conditions, too.

Mild cramping around the time of your period is quite common. This is especially true for teenagers who have just started menstruating.

With that said, cramps caused by endometriosis are more intense. They may cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Some women with endometriosis are forced to miss work or school during their period -- the pain interferes with their daily life.

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General Pelvic Pain

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About 20 percent of women with endometriosis will have pelvic pain throughout their cycles, and not just during menstruation.

It’s important to note that the amount of pelvic pain you experience doesn’t necessarily correlate to the severity of the endometriosis.

You can have mild endometriosis and suffer from severe pelvic pain or have severe endometriosis and have little or no pelvic pain.

Woman on back over the edge of bed with hands on her face
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Painful intercourse is another potential symptom of endometriosis. Intercourse may be painful only in certain positions, specifically during deep penetration. The pain may also come and go throughout the menstrual cycle.

Some women with endometriosis have more pain around the time of ovulation. This can interfere with getting pregnant since you may be less likely to have sex around your most fertile time.

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Women with endometriosis may have heavier bleeding and longer lasting menstruation. They have spotting between periods.

They may also get their periods more frequently.

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According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, endometriosis may be found in up to 50 percent of infertile women.

As we said above, not every woman with endometriosis will show symptoms or have painful periods. Some women only find out about the endometriosis while being evaluated for infertility.

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Woman sitting with her head in her hands
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Depression and fatigue can result from endometriosis. They are most likely caused by other symptoms of the disease.

For example, you may feel exhausted and depressed from dealing with pain throughout your cycle or period. Infertility and a difficult sex life (from painful intercourse) can lead to depression or anxiety.

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Bladder Problems

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Endometriosis can also cause blood in the urine and pain upon urinating. You may experience frequent urination and urgency.

In severe cases of endometriosis, endometrial tissue may grow around or even inside the bladder, leading to pain and bleeding.

If you experience bleeding when you urinate, contact your doctor.

Constipation and/or Diarrhea

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Some women with endometriosis deal with on-and-off constipation or diarrhea. It may get worse around the time of menstruation.

Also, some women will experience pain during bowel movements or when passing gas. In severe cases, endometriosis may develop within the bowel itself.

Some women with endometriosis are also diagnosed with IBS.

Family History of Endometriosis

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While the cause of endometriosis is not understood, there may be a genetic link to the disease.

Some experts say that if you have a mother or sister with endometriosis, your chances of developing the disease is about 7 percent.

Having a first-degree relative with endometriosis may also increase the risk of having a more severe case.

Sources:

Endometriosis. A.D.A.M. Healthcare Center.

Endometriosis: A Guide for Patients. American Society of Reproductive Medicine.