Endometriosis Symptoms and Tests

An estimated nine million women in the US have endometriosis, where tissue grows outside the uterine cavity, such as the ovaries or fallopian tubes. In rare cases, these tissue patches called nodules or lesions may also grow on the lungs. Endometriosis ranks third among the nation's leading causes of gynecologic hospitalization.

How Do I Know If I Have Endometriosis?

Endometriosis can cause a wide range of symptoms depending on where the lesions grow. The main symptoms of endometriosis are pelvic pain, often during menstruation and infertility.

Many other conditions have similar symptoms making it difficult to diagnose endometriosis, but several diagnostic tools can help your physician find congenital abnormalities that may be causing the symptoms, including:

  • Pelvic exam
  • Ultrasound
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Laparoscopic surgery

What's the Difference Between PCOS and Endometriosis?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis most commonly affect women's reproductive age. PCOS refers to a set of symptoms related to hormonal imbalance due to the absence of ovulation, high levels of androgens that causes excess body or facial hair and cysts on one or both ovaries. Although both conditions share almost the same symptoms, some are different.

Endometriosis PCOS
Heavy bleeding Heavy bleeding
Bleeding between periods Irregular periods
Painful periods Missed periods
Pelvic pain before periods Pelvic Pain
Pain during or after sex Excess body hair
Painful urination or bowel movements Hair loss on head
Difficulty getting pregnant Difficulty getting pregnant
Digestive issues Acne
Fatigue Oily skin
Low energy Dark, thickened skin
  Weight gain
  Bleeding without ovulation

What Is the Main Cause of Endometriosis?

The main cause of endometriosis is still unknown, but the risk is higher among women with the following:

  • Family history of endometriosis
  • Period that started before the age of 11
  • Short menstrual cycles (less than 27 days)
  • Heavy menstrual period that lasts for more than seven days

Living with Endometriosis

There is no cure for endometriosis, but treatments like pain relievers, hormone therapy, and surgery can help. If you experience any symptoms of endometriosis or PCOS, it will help to be proactive and seek medical help, especially if you plan for your pregnancy.

Endometriosis Foundation of America
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

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