Endometriosis or IBS?
Last updated: January 2021
"Your tests are clear. It is most likely just IBS. - This is a line I have heard numerous times throughout my life. But the thing is, I knew something more was wrong. It wasn't "just" IBS. My symptoms were real. Real and draining. I was suffering, daily. But why was it nobody was able to help me? What were they missing and not seeing? You ever have that feeling where you feel silly for wanting the doctors to find something, because you are just so sick of feeling crappy and them telling you there is nothing wrong. I had that feeling for years.
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Years of GI issues
My whole life, I have had gastrointestinal issues. Bloating, painful bowel movements, feeling sick after I ate, nausea, constipation, vomiting... and the list can seriously can go on. My first colonoscopy was during high school, where they found everything to be as normal as possible. That was when I originally was told I was just suffering from IBS. They said that if I changed my diet, I would be ok. Let me tell you, I changed my diet and still was not feeling any better. This led to many years of tests: more colonoscopies, endoscopies, stomach studies, blood work, diets, all to come to the same result, "You are fine it is just IBS".
Getting diagnosed with endometriosis
When I started to realize this was getting out of hand, and my GI symptoms had led to many other symptoms and complications, I knew I had to get serious and do my own research. Something was wrong. I learned about endometriosis fast. And come to find out, 3 of my aunts had suffered with it as well. When I was finally able to receive a proper endometriosis diagnosis, it made sense. All of these years of painful GI suffering, most likely was endometriosis all along. But this wasn't something doctors could find on a scan, doing blood work, or through the scopes. This was something someone who knew what they were looking for, while performing surgery, could find.
Many endometriosis sufferers also suffer from GI issues. And a lot of these GI issues from endometriosis, are similar, if not identical, to those of IBS. When I was given medicine to treat IBS, and it wasn't working, that was the first red flag for me. Even my husband agreed that whatever was going on was not IBS, especially if the IBS medicine was not working.
Symptoms of IBS and endometriosis
Here are how the symptoms compare:
|Irritable Bowel Syndrome||Endometriosis|
|Abdominal cramping||Abdominal cramping and pelvic cramping|
|Food Sensitivity||Food Sensitivity|
These are just a few symptoms and as you see, they are similar to each other, which is why so many suffering with endometriosis are originally misdiagnosed with IBS. And the thing is, even if you do not have endometriosis directly on your bowels, this can still occur. Inflammation is not restricted to one area. If your pelvic area is inflamed, it is more than likely your gut is as well. It is so important to know what is going on with your body - and when you know something more is wrong than what the doctors are telling you, fight for more and better answers.
Endometriosis does and can play a big role with our gut and GI issues. If you are having IBS-like symptoms, but nothing seems to be helping you and doctors cannot find anything, certainly push for the possibility of it being endometriosis. Like I had said, just because it may not be growing exactly on your bowels, having endometriosis can still cause and wreak havoc on your intestines and cause issues.
How many of you have been told you were just suffering with IBS?
Which symptoms are you experiencing the most this week? (Check all that apply):