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Most Googled questions on endometriosis

29 Feb 2024 • 4 min read

We’ve answered nine of your most Googled questions on endometriosis, from what it is, to how it’s diagnosed and everything in between.

Endometriosis affects roughly 10% (190 million) of reproductive age women and girls globally. So, chances are someone you know has it.1

Knowing the symptoms of endometriosis and what to look out for could help you to get an early diagnosis.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue akin to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.2

Endometriosis can affect women of any age, including teenagers.3 The cause of endometriosis isn’t known. Though some theories have been suggested, such as: 
  • Genetics 
  • A problem with the immune system 
  • Endometrium cells spreading through the body in the bloodstream or lymphatic system
However, it’s likely that endometriosis is caused by different factors.4

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

The symptoms of endometriosis can vary. Some people are badly affected, while others might not have any noticeable symptoms.

Endometriosis symptoms can include5
  • Pain in your lower tummy or back (pelvic pain) – usually worse during your period 
  • Period pain that stops you doing your normal activities 
  • Pain during or after sex 
  • Pain when peeing or pooing during your period 
  • Feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee or poo during your period 
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
You may also experience abnormally heavy periods.6

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Endometriosis is diagnosed by a laparoscopy; an operation in which a camera (a laparoscope) is inserted into the pelvis via a small cut near the navel. Throughout the laparoscopy, the surgeon will examine the pelvic organs and look for any signs of endometriosis.7

During the laparoscopy, endometriosis will be treated or taken away, sometimes for further examination. Endometriosis cysts, as well as scar tissue, will be destroyed or removed by various procedures during the operation.8

What is endo belly?

Endo belly is a specific symptom related to endometriosis.

Caused by cyclic bloating of the abdomen, endo belly is most likely to occur during the second half of the menstrual cycle leading up to menstruation. This is because the intestinal wall is more sensitive, so the abdomen becomes bloated causing discomfort and pain.9

However, dietary changes can help to ease endo belly. This is due to a close relationship between inflammation, oestrogen, and endometriosis: inflammation and high oestrogen levels can stimulate endometriosis.10 Though more research is needed to understand the role of nutrition in endometriosis.

Foods to eat that may help ease endo belly11,12
  • High-fibre foods include fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains 
  • Healthy fats, such as salmon, nuts, seeds, avocados and plant oils are all good sources of healthy fats 
  • Minerals, such as magnesium and zinc, help relax muscles and regulate your menstrual cycle. Try leafy greens, dark chocolate, legumes, nuts and seeds, poultry and shellfish
It may be suggested to avoid these foods if you’re experiencing endo belly13
  • Alcohol 
  • Caffeine 
  • Fatty or red meats 
  • Preservatives 
  • Dairy and eggs 
  • Soy 
  • Gluten 
  • Artificial sugar
Another approach to potentially improve endo belly is to follow the low FODMAP diet.14

Although research has shown changes in diet could help with endo belly, further clinical trials will help understand the role of diet in endometriosis.

Is endometriosis curable?

Unfortunately, there’s currently not a known endometriosis cure, but there’s treatment options aimed at controlling symptoms (such as pain), and for infertility.15

Healthcare providers consider several factors when deciding the best treatment for endometriosis symptoms, as we’re all different, including16
  • Your age 
  • How severe your symptoms are 
  • How severe the disease is 
  • Whether you want children

Is endometriosis genetic?

Genetic factors can play a role in how endometriosis develops in some women but not others.17 Genetic studies have shown you’re more likely to have endometriosis if a close relative does.18

Both genetic and environmental influences can drive endometriosis but there’s not an endometriosis gene.19

Are endometriosis and PCOS related?

They’re not!

Endometriosis and PCOS both affect female reproduction and can cause infertility; however, they’re very different things. Endometriosis is caused by abnormal cell growth outside the uterus and PCOS is caused by a problem with hormones.20

Although hormone problems are a general risk factor for both endometriosis and PCOS, the pattern of hormonal changes in both is quite opposite.21

Can endometriosis cause cancer?

Not necessarily.

It’s said that women with endometriosis have a small increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, the difference is minor with 1.3% of the general female population developing ovarian cancer, compared to less than 2% of women who have endometriosis.22

Does endometriosis cause infertility?

Typically, endometriosis causes pain and infertility, although 20-25% of women affected show no symptoms.23

The cause of infertility due to endometriosis isn’t fully understood but is thought to be because of damage to the fallopian tubes or ovaries.24

Though not all women with endometriosis will have problems and some will eventually be able to get pregnant without treatment. Even with severe endometriosis, natural conception is still possible. Around 60-70% of women with endometriosis can still get pregnant spontaneously.25

The final say

We hope this has cleared up some of your questions on endometriosis. If you feel like you may have endometriosis or are experiencing some of the symptoms and would like some individual advice, we’d recommend speaking to your GP.

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional if you think you might have endometriosis.

Sources

1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/endometriosis
 
heeral-patel-bio

Heeral Patel

Reviewer

Health & Science Editor

Biomedical Sciences

Graduating from Cardiff University in Biomedical Sciences, I pursued a career related to health and medicine. Landing me my first job in pharmaceutical market research, from listening to patient stories my interest in health and wellbeing grew, leading me to work in publishing and editing content for medical education and women’s health journals. Now I am here as part of the Science team to create science and health editorial guidelines and content reviews so we can help the business with their mission of being science-led!

Something I am passionate about:
Exercise! I’m not a regular gym go-er, but I am an advocate for moving your body in some form or another, whether that’s a long walk or dancing! It’s really helped with my mental well-being, and I love getting 10,000 steps in!
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