In endometriosis, tissue similar to the uterus’s lining (the endometrium) grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis can be a painful condition, especially during menstruation, and endometriosis can impair fertility. However, some people with endometriosis don’t experience any pain from it.
The main symptoms are pain and infertility. Some of the common symptoms that people with endometriosis may experience are the following: painful periods (dysmenorrhea); pain during or after sex; pain while urinating or defecating; unusually heavy periods or bleeding between periods; infertility; and fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods. It’s possible for people with endometriosis to experience all, some, or none of these symptoms. Some people with endometriosis may experience atypical symptoms, like back pain, chest pain, leg pain, rectal bleeding, or acid reflux.
Endometriosis has a wide symptom range, and needs to be diagnosed by a doctor; the gold standard for diagnosis is laparoscopy (minimally invasive surgery).
Endometriosis is a chronic condition requiring long-term treatment which focuses on symptom management. Symptoms can be managed medically through surgery to remove endometriotic tissues, and through long-term medication for hormonal management. Surgery isn’t considered a cure, because endometriosis tissue may return after surgery; however, removing it can reduce painful symptoms in the short term, and hormonal treatment can delay the tissue’s regrowth. Endometriosis-impaired fertility can be addressed by assisted reproduction techniques, such as IVF.
Some people may find that some of their symptoms of endometriosis, such as painful menstruation, can be non-medically managed. Some people with endometriosis develop chronic pelvic pain, which may be manageable with pelvic physiotherapy and myofascial trigger point dry needling.