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What Is Normal When It Comes To Endometriosis?

Does it sound like what I’m experiencing is a symptom of endometriosis? Do you get *insert symptom* with your endometriosis? Is it normal to feel like this?? I think all of us have asked these types of questions at some point, haven’t we!?

Someone recently asked me if what they were experiencing was "normal" for endometriosis. They were waiting for a diagnostic laparoscopy and they’d spent hours Googling endometriosis, but they still had so many unanswered questions. This person didn’t feel like their symptoms were as bad as others who they had spoken to in groups online. All they knew was that they had a lot of unexplained symptoms and they needed answers.

So, what is 'normal' with endometriosis?

As someone who has lived with endometriosis for around 24 years now, I think I have finally learnt the answer to this question: there is no 'normal' when it comes to endometriosis!

Endometriosis is very individual. The symptoms are dependent on the location and severity of the disease. But, saying that, symptoms don’t always relate to the severity of the disease! For example, you could have severe, deep infiltrating endometriosis but experience very little pain, and, similarly, someone with very little disease could experience severe pain. Differing sites of disease cause differing symptoms. And that’s on top of us all being different human beings who respond to pain in different ways!... I know! It’s very complicated!

The most common symptoms of endometriosis are:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis or lower back
  • Changes to your periods (such as spotting before your period is due)
  • Pain before, during or after your period
  • Painful, heavy, prolonged or irregular periods
  • Painful menstrual cramps
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Painful or problematic bowel movements (including diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Pain on passing urine
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea

Other symptoms can include pain on ovulation, pain during an internal examination, bleeding from the bowel, depression, leg pain, and infertility - to name but a few!

Not everyone who has endometriosis will experience the same symptoms. For example, not everyone who has endometriosis, has periods. Likewise, not everyone with endometriosis will experience infertility. Just because you have endometriosis doesn't mean you will definitely experience all these symptoms.

How are we supposed to know if the symptoms we are experiencing are endometriosis then!?

Diagnosing endometriosis can be very difficult. It's easy to attribute all your symptoms to it, but it may not always be the cause. These symptoms can also indicate many other conditions.

My biggest recommendation is to keep a pain diary. Keep a note of your pain levels and things like your periods, food, toilet habits, and exercise. You may start to see some correlation between your pain and another influence. Is your pain cyclical? Does it happen around the same time every month or is it all month round? Information like this can speed up a diagnosis.

Please note, all of the symptoms above may have other causes. It is important to seek medical advice to clarify the cause of any symptoms you may be experiencing. 

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