Unveiling the Connection: Endometriosis and GI Health

Endometriosis, a condition where endometrial-like tissue grows outside of the uterus, is a painful health issue that affects an estimated 10% of women worldwide. While it's commonly known for causing painful periods and infertility, it can also wreak havoc on the gastrointestinal (GI) system. The relationship between endometriosis and GI health is complex, and for many women, symptoms such as constipation, bloating, and painful bowel movements can be the first signal of an underlying endometriosis diagnosis.

Learn more about our integrative approach to endometriosis.

Understanding Endometriosis

When rogue endometrial tissue responds to the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle by shedding, just like the menstrual lining inside the uterus, it has no way to exit the body. Over time, this can lead to inflammation, scarring, and the formation of adhesions that can trap the pelvic organs in an abnormal position.

The most common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Pain with bowel movements or urination
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infertility

While these symptoms are well-documented, the impact of endometriosis on GI health has only recently been gaining recognition, as it has significant implications for a patient's overall quality of life. Many women with endometriosis experience chronic abdominal pain, bloating, and other GI issues that can significantly impact their daily lives and mental health.

Read: Painful Periods? You Might Have Endometriosis—Here’s What to Know

The Link Between Endometriosis and GI Issues

Endometriosis can directly and indirectly affect the digestive system, leading to a range of GI issues such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The proximity of endometrial-like tissue to the colon and rectum can cause the organs to stick together, leading to structural changes that affect bowel movements (1).

The inflammation and hormonal fluctuations associated with endometriosis can also disrupt the normal digestive process (2).

One of the primary mechanisms through which endometriosis impacts the GI system is by inhibiting the normal peristalsis, or the pushing motion of the colon and rectum. The presence of endometrial implants can also cause the bowel to spasm, leading to the sudden urge to go. This endometrial tissue can also release substances that are known to be potent inflammatory mediators, further contributing to GI symptoms (3). 

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Identifying the Signs

The tricky part about diagnosing endometriosis-related GI issues is that they can mimic other common conditions like IBS. This is one reason why it can take up to 12 years to obtain a diagnosis of endometriosis (4). Women with endometriosis may experience a range of symptoms that fluctuate with their menstrual cycle, making it difficult to recognize the source of the problem.

It’s crucial for women to be vigilant about changes in their bowel habits, particularly if they coincide with their menstrual cycle. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Chronic constipation that doesn’t respond to dietary or lifestyle changes
  • Bloating that varies throughout the month
  • Severe cramping during bowel movements

It’s important to recognize these symptoms and advocate for thorough evaluation, as these can be signs of an underlying endometriosis diagnosis that may have been previously missed or misdiagnosed. As time passes, the growth and spread of endometriosis adhesions has potentially irreversible impacts on fertility and overall health.

Related: Endometriosis Causing Debilitating Fatigue Which Is Often Overlooked

Managing GI Health with Endometriosis

For women with endometriosis and GI symptoms, managing gut health is a vital part of an overall treatment plan. This can involve a combination of lifestyle changes and medical interventions tailored to address both the endometriosis and GI issues.

Lifestyle adjustments for improved gut function

  • Incorporate regular physical activity, which can help improve digestive function and ease constipation. Physical activity reduces systemic inflammation, and keeps the bowel “moving” so to speak.
  • Increase dietary fiber to promote regular bowel movements, ensuring to drink plenty of water along with it.
  • Practice stress-reducing activities like meditation or yoga, as stress can exacerbate GI symptoms like diarrhea.

Medical interventions and treatments

  • Pain management strategies to address symptoms during menstrual periods.
  • Hormonal therapies which can help reduce the severity of endometriosis and, by extension, related GI symptoms.
  • Surgical options to remove endometrial implants or adhesions, especially in cases where GI symptoms are severe or non-responsive to other treatments.

Read: Holistic Treatment for Endometriosis Symptoms

Support and Resources for Endometriosis Warriors

Navigating the complex web of endometriosis and its effects on various aspects of health can be overwhelming. Thankfully, there are resources available to help women find support and specialized care.

Seek out an experienced functional medicine doctor

Specialists in reproductive health and pelvic pain conditions are more likely to recognize and address the unique needs of women with endometriosis, including those related to GI health.

Support groups and online communities

Connecting with other women who are experiencing similar struggles with endometriosis can provide much-needed support and understanding.

Functional Medicine for Endometriosis Treatment Near Me

Are you looking to speak with a holistic doctor about your endometriosis pain? Have you been suffering from abdominal or pelvic pain and want to find out if endometriosis is the cause? Holistic integrative medicine can help you.

Our expert integrative holistic team of doctors at CentreSpringMD are primary care physicians for families nationwide, including in the Atlanta area.

What you can expect as a patient as CentreSpringMD

  • More time with your doctor: Our holistic OB/GYNs in Atlanta maximize time spent with patients to get a comprehensive view of effective treatment. You’ll also have direct access to your holistic doctor.
  • A whole-body approach: When hormones are out of balance, it’s important that your doctor address diet, lifestyle, trauma, and illness that can impact this complex system.
  • Increased trust and rapport: When you see a knowledgeable and compassionate doctor who takes the time to listen, you can heal more quickly.
  • Conventional and holistic treatment and therapy options: Not only will your holistic provider discuss traditional treatments with you, but you’ll have the opportunity for functional and natural solutions as well.
  • In-depth integrative lab testing with state-of-the-art technology: Our team is able to uncover the root cause of your symptoms and craft a personalized treatment plan.

Stop letting endometriosis and the pain it’s causing interrupt your everyday life. Integrative holistic medicine can end your suffering by giving you the tools you need to reduce pain and other symptoms. Work with a doctor who cares about your complete wellness.

Book an in-person appointment or virtual consultation with a provider at CentreSpringMD now. We are excited to help you on your journey to be pain-free.

What to Remember

The relationship between endometriosis and GI health is intricate and often overlooked. By recognizing the potential connection and advocating for comprehensive care, women with endometriosis can improve their quality of life and find relief from debilitating GI symptoms.

For those experiencing unexplained GI issues, it’s important to consider endometriosis as a possible underlying cause, especially if other conditions have been ruled out or if symptoms persist despite treatment. Remember, your health and well-being are worth the effort it takes to find the right answers. Don’t hesitate to seek out a healthcare professional who will listen and work with you to address all aspects of your health, including your gut health.


endometriosis, Gi health, gut health, Holistic Medicine, hormones

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