Is it Endometriosis or IBS?

By: Women's Care Staff

Previously, Women’s Care discussed the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of endometriosis, a painful condition that affects over five million women in the US. However, irritable bowel syndrome has similar symptoms. How do you know if you have endometriosis or IBS? Menstruation can intensify these symptoms. Therefore, many confuse endometriosis with other conditions such as period cramps or IBS.

Like IBS, endometriosis can cause abdominal pain and cramping. In addition, you can experience changes in the appearance and frequency of bowel movements. Having a better understanding of the main differences between endometriosis and IBS can help you determine the right diagnosis. If you suffer from severe pain during menstruation or changes in bowel habits, talk to your doctor, or make an appointment with the specialists at Women’s Care.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis consists of uterine lining growing on other organs outside the uterus. This prevents a woman from shedding her endometrial lining through her vagina during menstruation. It can thus lead to inflammation and cysts. These tissue growths can grow on organs throughout the lower abdomen and pelvic area. As a result, it can interfere with bladder and bowel function.

Endometriosis symptoms

Many women assume that the symptoms they experience with endometriosis directly relate to their periods. This is partly why endometriosis sometimes goes undetected. Also, the tissue growths from endometriosis can develop next to the large intestine. Excess tissue can lead to inflammation and contribute to problems with bowel movements. As a result, some physicians diagnose endometriosis incorrectly as IBS.

Common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Strong abdominal pain and cramping, especially during your period
  • Pain during or after sexual intercourse
  • Bladder difficulties
  • Infertility
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Irregular bleeding between periods
  • Vaginal tenderness

Differences between endometriosis and IBS

The most common symptoms shared between endometriosis and IBS include abdominal pain and cramping. Aside from these two symptoms, patients with IBS report having one or more additional symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal distension
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Colicky pain
  • Upper abdominal pain

If a doctor diagnosed you with IBS and you find that your symptoms worse around your period, know you could have endometriosis. Talk to your gynecologist about all your symptoms and concerns regarding an incorrect diagnosis. Your OB-GYN will run the necessary tests to arrive at a more accurate diagnosis.

Furthermore, for more information about how Women’s Care can help you take care of you, contact us to schedule an appointment.

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