Does Endometriosis Cause Constipation? Information about How Endometriosis Affects Your Bowels and How To Find Relief

Everybody poops. But sometimes, we don’t.

Do you experience any of these things?

  • Painful bowel movements

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation during ovulation

  • Going days without a bowel movement

If this sounds like you, keep reading to learn ways to make things move again. We’ll talk about the causes of constipation, bowel endometriosis, and lifestyle changes that will help you find relief.

Does Endometriosis Affect Bowels?

If you frequently have painful bowel movements, endometriosis could be the cause. Dealing with endometriosis AND painful bowel movements seems too bad to be true. 

And unfortunately, they’re often linked

Endometriosis and painful bowel movements often go together. 

And it can be embarrassing to talk about. Let’s work together to break this taboo. 

Misbehaved endometrial tissue likes to travel. And for about 3.8 - 37% of women with endometriosis, this tissue attaches to the bowel. This is called Bowel Endometriosis. 

You may have symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Constipation
  • Straining to have a bowel movement
  • Rectal bleeding 

Even without bowel endometriosis, the bowel sits close to places commonly affected by endometriosis. When you have endometriosis, constipation, tummy bloat, and flatulence can be a frequent companion.

Read below to see a real story of the struggle. Even if you regularly have constipation during periods, endometriosis can make this worse. 

Does this sound like you?

My cycle is between 6 and 8 days long. I go 3 or 4 days with no movements at all, then 2 to 3 days of passing rabbit pellets many times a day, often a single pellet at a time, so annoying. There is often a lot of very, very thick mucus encasing the pellets and sometimes only mucus. On the final day, I will have 2 or 3 gigantic bowel movements of normal-looking poop but I have terrible cramps throughout these, they take forever and I'm in labor the whole time. After that, my intestines feel pretty wiped out and sore. I usually feel the urge to go multiple times after that main event, sometimes nothing comes out, sometimes a very small amount of liquid or very loose stool comes out.

You may have bowel endometriosis. It’s important to talk to your doctor about these symptoms and get the right treatment for your body.

Read below to find out more about the causes of constipation and what you can do about it.

Can Endometriosis Cause Constipation?

According to the World Journal of Gastroenterology, anywhere from 3-37% of women with endometriosis have bowel symptoms. 

A study from BMC Women’s Health found an even higher number: 80% reported gastrointestinal issues in the past year. 

They found that women often get misdiagnosed with IBS. 

For these women, it was something else entirely.

Many women could tell the difference between gastrointestinal pain and endometriosis pain. While it’s always important to talk to your doctor, knowing the right questions to ask can help.

Constipation During Ovulation

When we ovulate, there’s an increase in estrogen. Some lucky women get only the positive symptoms of ovulation. 

For other women who get constipation during ovulation, endometriosis could make this worse. 

For some, this flux in hormones can lead to:

  • Water retention
  • One-sided abdominal pain 
  • Breast tenderness 
  • Bloating

Let’s focus on the bloating. According to the American Pregnancy Association, bloating is one of the most common symptoms of ovulation

During this time we tend to eat foods high in salt, processed foods, and dairy. These foods can make endometriosis symptoms worse. This might also disturb the digestive system.

There is hope though. Keep reading to find out more about healthy diets and simple lifestyle changes that can help.

Endometriosis and Diarrhea

Diarrhea is one of the symptoms of endometriosis you might not want to talk about.

It’s one thing to not poop. It’s another to poop too much.  

You may have to schedule your day around proximity to the bathroom. Or limit your time spent away from home. This can really put a damper on social life. 

When you have to go, you have to go.

Symptoms differ between women. A study in Sweden found that when the endometriosis lesions are close to the bowel, diarrhea can be more frequent.

You may be feeling sad at this point. First, you can’t go, then you go too much. So what can be done? Below I’ll give some tips to help.

Main Ways To Get Endometriosis Constipation Relief And Prevent It From Recurring

Some simple lifestyle changes can help ease the discomfort that comes from constipation.

Did you know there are better ways to poop

Allowing your body to squat while you’re on the toilet is a great way to move things along.

You can also:

  • Increase movement through exercise
  • Increase your intake of plant-based fiber
  • Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate

So let’s talk about these things.

1. Exercise

First, let’s talk about abdominal massage. There are techniques to gently create movement in your bowels that you can do at home. 

Abdominal massage can be done in the morning or at night. 

If constipation is a frequent companion, consider doing it twice. If it’s more occasional, in the evening before bed is best.

When you give yourself an abdominal massage, your parasympathetic nerves are relaxed. This helps you sleep and prepares your body for ...evacuation.    

There is always some risk involved in doing exercises at home so stop if you experience:

  • Faintness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain
  • Dizziness 

Any exercise is better than no exercise. When you exercise it stimulates a sluggish bowel and can move things along.

In a great video conversation I had with Dr. Bri Grogan, PT, DPT we talk about different exercises you can do to alleviate endometriosis pain (which also helps alleviate constipation).

Here’s a preview:

  • Yoga
  • Light cardio 
  • Stretching  

2. Diet Changes

Diet is a huge part of endometriosis management. Some advice for those with constipation might not be the best for endometriosis.

If you’re like me, you’ve found that some foods no longer (or never were) kind to our bodies. Everyone’s body is different, however. 

Maintaining a healthy Endo diet has changed my life. 

For my body this consists of:

  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free
  • Anti-inflammatory foods

Thankfully, lots of suggestions are great for constipation and endometriosis!

Fiber. Plant-based is best:

  • Quinoa
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Berries
  • Squash 
  • And more 

Things you want to avoid:

  • Heavily processed foods (helpful tip: shop on the outsides of the grocery store. Avoid everything in the middle.)
  • Fast food
  • Chips
  • Meat

3. Hydrate

Water, water everywhere. For many health questions, water can help. 

Any amount or temperature is good for you. But have you tried warm water?

A study in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine found that drinking warm water (about 93 degrees) meant better rehydration and less sweating

I drink warm water with a drop or two lemon oil. Water doesn’t have to be boring. And lemons are a bonus healthy addition.  

Regardless of the temp, water is good.

Warm, lukewarm, room temperature. Water is already good for endometriosis, and it’s great for relieving constipation. 

My personal recommendation as someone with endometriosis? Drink about half your weight in ounces every day.

And finally, listen to your body. It finds ways to tell us when something isn’t right.

Let’s break the taboo of talking about our digestive health and get healthy together.

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