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Women’s health centre

Endometriosis - What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Endometriosis affects different women in different ways. The two main symptoms are pain and difficulty getting pregnant. But some women don't have any symptoms.

Symptoms tend to get better or go away completely when you stop having periods after the menopause.

Pain

Pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis. But how much it hurts, when it hurts, and where it hurts varies among women.[1][2]

Most women with endometriosis get pain in the area between their hips and above the tops of their legs. This part of your body is called your pelvis. Pain here is sometimes called pelvic pain.

The pain can be severe, and some women get pain all the time. Or it may just be a dull ache. You may get pain only at certain times, such as when you have sex, when you empty your bowels, or during your period.[1]

Doctors don't know why endometriosis causes pain. But endometriosis that is deep inside your pelvis seems to hurt more.[2]

Having severe pain can be distressing. Some women fear that it means they have cancer. But endometriosis isn't cancer.

Pain during your periods

This is very common. The pain starts a few days before your period and gets worse when the bleeding starts. The pain is like an ache. For some women, the pain is so bad it makes them double over.

Most women who get this pain feel it deep inside their pelvis. Some also feel pain low down in their back. The pain eases off towards the end of your period. If your periods start to be painful when they never were before, it's possible that you have endometriosis.

Pain during sex

Some women feel pain deep inside when they have sex. The pain may stay for a while afterwards. Doctors call this dyspareunia.

Pain when you empty your bowels

Endometriosis can stick to your bowel. If this happens, it may hurt when you empty your bowels.

Pain at other times

Some women have a dull ache in their lower abdomen, pelvis, or lower back most of the time.

Problems getting pregnant

Many women with endometriosis get pregnant naturally. But about one-third of women who have been diagnosed with endometriosis need medical help to get pregnant.[19]

If you've been trying to get pregnant for at least a year, doctors call it infertility. Some women only discover they have endometriosis when they have tests for infertility.

Read more about Fertility problems and endometriosis.

Other symptoms

If you have endometriosis, you may also:

Doctors don't know why endometriosis makes some women feel this way.

Bear in mind that the symptoms of endometriosis are very similar to the symptoms of some other illnesses. Some of these conditions can also affect your chances of getting pregnant, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, which is an infection in your womb. To learn more, see Other illnesses with symptoms like endometriosis.

Glossary

menopause

When a woman stops having periods, it is called the menopause. This usually happens around the age of 50.

For more terms related to Endometriosis

Citations

For references related to Endometriosis click here.
Last Updated: November 06, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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