Endo and GERD
Last updated: April 2023
I have written before about the overlap that often exists between endometriosis (and other related and intersectional conditions such as adenomyosis, ovarian cysts, and fibroids) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, otherwise known as IBS. However, did you know that endo can often also play a role in upper GI issues as well, including gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD?
As the date of my hysterectomy quickly approaches, I have also been trying to check off seeing a slew of other specialists for other health issues I have. And the consensus of the specialists I have been seeing has been more or less been the following: "Let's wait and see if things improve after your surgery, as reproductive issues can be a contributing cause".
The connection between endometriosis and other symptoms
With my GERD, my IBS issues can contribute to it. If I have constipation or a lot of bloating or gas on a particular night, I note that those are also evenings my reflux tends to be at its worst. My new gastroenterologist explained to me that all that backup and bloat on the lower end of my digestive tract can lead to more pressure that can extend upward to my stomach, exacerbating my GERD. But, here's the thing: I know a lot of my intestinal issues are *definitely* intensified, if not completely caused by, my endo and adeno. I have also noticed that my GERD symptoms often (but not always) tend to worsen in the days leading up to and including my period.
In a past surgery, a lot of endo was found strangling parts of my bowel. Its removal significantly alleviated many of my IBS symptoms for quite some time. Additionally, I have a tipped uterus that is swollen with adenomyosis and several fibroids and leans heavily on my colon, which I think is directly affecting my bowel function. And if that is causing IBS-symptoms and leading to things like constipation, then that can then lead to a domino effect that can also cause GERD.
My hope is that after my surgery, the removal of my diseased uterus and any endometriosis found in my pelvic cavity, will considerably relieve pressure on my bowels and allow for smoother digestion overall, contributing to a marked decrease in instances of GERD. I know it's not the only contributor, diet plays a role too. But I do think eliminating this factor can play a (perhaps not insignificant) role in my GERD treatment.
What the research shows
Peer review research does support the intersection and effects of endo on digestive issues such as GERD. One paper noted, "Gastrointestinal symptoms... such as heartburn and dyspepsia are significantly more commonly found in women with endometriosis compared to controls without pelvic endometriosis".1 Another study, published in 2015, concurred with this overall conclusion, stating, "The majority of endometriosis patients experience more severe gastrointestinal symptoms than controls".2
Do you experience GERD or IBS? Have you noted any relief of your symptoms with surgery? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below!
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