Uncommon symptoms of endometriosis
In addition to the most common symptoms of endometriosis, there are some atypical symptoms you may experience, which include:
- Fatigue or exhaustion. Many women with endometriosis report feeling worn out and exhausted during their menstrual cycles.
- Digestive issues. Nausea, constipation, and diarrhea are all possible symptoms of endometriosis due to the inflammation that is occurring in the digestive tract.
- Unexplained weight gain. Endometriosis can cause hormonal imbalances that can lead to weight gain, especially in the stomach area.
- Mood swings and depression. Endometriosis can lead to hormonal imbalances that can affect mood and lead to depression.
- Dizziness, light-headedness, or headaches with a period usually as a result of hormone imbalances related to endometriosis.
Increasing awareness of common and uncommon symptoms of endometriosis can help individuals seek a proper diagnosis and treatment earlier to minimize long term side effects such as infertility.
It is estimated about 10 to 15 percent of women of childbearing age suffer from endometriosis. It can take anywhere from 4 to 11 years to receive a proper diagnosis (4)
You could be at a higher risk for endometriosis if you (5,6):
- Started your period before age 11
- Have short monthly cycles—less than 27 days
- Have heavy menstrual periods that last more than 7 days
- Are infertile
- Have a family history of endometriosis. If you have a female family member who has endometriosis, you’re up to seven times more likely to have endometriosis.
Related: Why High Estrogen Levels in Women Are Harmful
If you think you might have endometriosis, the first step is to see your integrative doctor who specializes in women’s reproductive health.
Your health care provider will likely do a physical exam or a pelvic exam and may order one or more of the following tests:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Pelvic exam
- Transvaginal ultrasound
- Blood tests (CA-125)
As of 2022, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) now recommends laparoscopy only if imaging results are negative and other treatments are unsuccessful (7).
Treatment of endometriosis with integrative medicine
Treatment decisions are incredibly individualized and will depend on factors such as your symptoms, stage of the disease, desire to have children, and any personal preferences. Treatment options for endometriosis include:
- Pain management
- Hormone therapy
- Surgery – Laparoscopy to remove adhesions is effective to reduce pain.
- Acupuncture or massage
- Anti-inflammatory diet changes
Depending on your individual situation, your doctor may recommend excision to remove areas of endometriosis via a surgical procedure. Excision removes the buildup of scar tissue on the bladder, abdominal wall, uterus, and elsewhere. Somewhere between 20-50% of women need a second surgery within 2 to 5 years, but this type of intervention does result in long-term relief in up to 80% of patients (8).
Having endometriosis can feel overwhelming, but there are ways to cope with the symptoms. Proper treatment begins with a prompt diagnosis, which is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of endometriosis. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for you, and find support from other women in the same situation. With proper management, endometriosis can be managed and symptoms can often be alleviated.
Get started with functional endometriosis treatment today.