Do you ever experience any of the following, especially in the days leading up to your period?
- Abdominal pain
- Pain during sex
- Pain during bowel movements
- Intestinal spasms
- Rectal Bleeding
If the answer is yes to any of these, you’ll want to keep reading.
You don’t have to continue living with the pain and other unpleasant side effects of bowel endometriosis.
What Is Bowel Endometriosis?
So, what exactly is bowel endometriosis anyway?
Bowel endometriosis occurs when endometrial-like tissue grows on areas of the body such as the bowels or intestines.
As many as 60% of women with endometriosis will experience at least one gastrointestinal symptom.
Each month, usually in sync with your period, this tissue grows, swells, and may bleed similar to that of the lining of your uterus.
But, there’s a problem.
Unlike your uterus lining, there’s nowhere for this abnormally placed tissue to go.
Because this bleeding occurs in an area where your body cannot easily shed it, swelling, pain and many other symptoms can occur.
These symptoms can make you absolutely miserable.
Bowel Endometriosis Symptoms:
Intense and excruciating abdominal and rectal pain.
Rectal bleeding or discharge.
Constipation and diarrhea.
Bowel endometriosis is not a fun time, to say the least.
Bowel endometriosis is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed types of endometriosis.
Because the symptoms often resemble other conditions, such as IBS, bowel endo often goes overlooked and undiagnosed.
But the symptoms of bowel endometriosis can be very serious and debilitating if left untreated.
Symptom 1: Pain
Pain. Seemingly everywhere, especially in the days leading up to your period.
Pelvic pain is the most commonly reported symptom of endo, but when the bowels are involved, it gets worse. In addition to pelvic pain, those suffering from bowel endometriosis will often also experience abdominal pain as well.
Pain during sex.
Rectal pain during bowel movements.
Will it ever end?
Symptom 2: Spasm
According to Endofound.org, about 40% of those with endo will also experience intestinal spasms or cramping.
Because this symptom is so similar to the GI symptoms experienced by those with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), it can often cause a delay in true diagnosis.
What sets bowel endo apart from IBS, though, is the increase in symptoms and severity in the days before and during your period.
If you suspect that you are suffering from bowel endometriosis, it can often be helpful to keep a detailed log of your symptoms, severity, and dates of occurrence. This can help you and your doctor determine if there is a monthly pattern to your symptoms.
Symptom 3: Changes in Bowel Movements
Days of constipation.
Even weeks in some cases.
Followed by diarrhea so bad, you’re afraid to leave your house.
I’ve been there. Have you?
When nodules form on the bowels, particularly on the rectum or sigmoid colon, patients can have constipation alternating with diarrhea and intestinal bloating and cramping.
In the days leading up to your period, the tissue that forms these nodules swells, which causes the bowel openings to narrow. This can cause even more bloating, pain, constipation, and diarrhea.
Some women will experience constipation first followed by diarrhea, while other women will experience the reverse.
Symptom 4: Rectal Bleeding
Have you ever discovered blood in your stool?
This can be a very scary thing to see.
It can send your mind racing with worry. Stress. Anxiety.
What else can be wrong with me?
But did you know that this, too, can be yet another symptom of endometriosis?
Bright red blood is often indicative of constipation and hemorrhoids that often accompany it.
Dark brown blood, which may also be mixed with mucous, could suggest an invasive bowel disease or endometrial growth on the bowel.
Endometriosis implantations on the rectal wall can also cause rectal bleeding. Often this type of growth is also accompanied by severe back pain.
As with other endo symptoms, the presence of blood in the stool as a result of bowel endo will often intensify in the days leading up to or during a woman’s period.
Bowel Endometriosis and Fertility
Infertility is one of the most emotionally difficult symptoms of endometriosis.
You can push through the pain.
You can wash away the blood.
But you can’t make yourself get pregnant.
And that can be heartbreaking.
Dealing with infertility is bad enough.
The added complications that come with untreated bowel endometriosis just makes it worse.
Does Bowel Endometriosis Impact Fertility?
It is estimated that 50% of women facing infertility also suffer from endometriosis.
Endo can block or change the shape of your pelvis, which can increase difficulty in conceiving.
The scar tissue resulting from endo can leave the fallopian tubes or ovaries blocked.
Women with a history of bowel endometriosis may also face increased pregnancy risks as well, should they become pregnant.
All hope is not lost, though.
While every woman is different and each will require different approaches to management, there are things you can do to reduce your symptoms.
You do not have to suffer through a life of misery and pain.
How to Treat Bowel Endometriosis Naturally:
Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition.
Naturally, then, the best way to treat this condition is by reducing inflammation throughout the body.
And the best part about treating your symptoms naturally?
There are none of the nasty side effects that come from some of the more conventional treatments!
DietResearch has shown that some foods can increase the severity of endo symptoms.
These foods include:
According to the Mayo Clinic, some good choices include:
- Vegetables such as leafy greens and beets
- Fruits such as berries and avocados
- Foods rich in Omega-3s, like salmon, tuna, and walnuts
Many women have found a lot of success by using the Endo Diet to reduce their symptoms.
In addition to dietary changes, there are also many herbs that have strong anti-inflammatory effects.
Two of these anti-inflammatory herbs recommended by the Mayo Clinic are:
In addition to having strong anti-inflammatory properties, these two herbs are also high in antioxidants, which is also believed to help delay and repair cell damage.
- Evening primrose oil
- Milk Thistle
- White Willow
Cedars-Sinai cites many lifestyle changes that can help reduce the severity of these symptoms.
These changes include:
- Regular Exercise
Another great lifestyle change is incorporating a high quality, personal moisturizer into your daily routine.
An all-natural personal moisturizer can both nourish and hydrate your vaginal skin, as well as aid in reducing pain experienced during sex.
Bowel Endometriosis Stories
If you find yourself suffering from bowel endometriosis symptoms, know that you are not alone.
You don’t have to live in constant and debilitating pain.
There is hope.
Bowel Endometriosis Story 1
“I’ve dealt with constipation since I was 10 with no real answer as to why because my diet was just fine. I had weird cramps that could only be described as located in my “lower stomach”. I get severe cramps after using the bathroom and every now and then there is blood. The only way they officially diagnosed me was with a laparoscopic surgery. I also had an amazing doctor who knew to check in that area based off of my symptoms. So for me, the only way it was officially diagnosed was with the lap surgery.”
Bowel Endometriosis Story 2
“It took me 10 years to get diagnosed and I was having bowel symptoms the whole time. I was suspected of coeliac disease, Crohns, IBS, stomach bugs etc. I had blood tests, stool samples, an endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy. Everything came back clear. Got my laparoscopy in June and was diagnosed with stage 4 endo. My bowel is covered and it’s completely stuck to my womb.“
Bowel Endometriosis Story 3
I have constipation for 4-5 days, then a couple days of "rabbit pellets" and finally a day or two of (going) a weeks' worth at a time, accompanied by cramps and sometimes fever/sweats. Sometimes these are good, healthy stools and sometimes they're soft and diarrhea-like. Occasionally I will have full-on diarrhea at the end of the cycle, that happens three or four times a year and seems to happen mainly during periods of stress...I also suffer from endometriosis...and I definitely have a lot of pain during my constipation phases (along with severe bloating and gas.) My most severe constipation occurs the week leading up to my period -- I'm bloated, plugged up and can't go at all, sometimes can't even pass gas. Once my period starts things start moving again and it's the healthiest BMs I have all month. This pattern has continued even on birth control.