Both irritable bowel syndrome or IBS and Endometriosis result in abdominal pain. Women usually feel IBS getting worse during their periods. If this is the case, then you should think if it is Endometriosis which is a problem related to reproductive organ but not bowel. This Gynecological disorder cause pain and cramps like IBS. So, it is important to check if it is
This Gynecological disorder cause pain and cramps like IBS. So, it is important to check if it is anyway connected to IBS because sometimes Endometriosis might be the reason behind IBS. Once you know if it is just IBS or Endometriosis then you can opt for appropriate treatment.
What is Endometriosis?
If you recall the old lessons taught in your school, you’ll get that Endometrial tissue is the lining of the uterus walls which thickens every month and if the pregnancy doesn’t take place, it sheds out of the body as a part of menstrual cycle.
Endometriosis is a health condition where this Endometrial tissue thickens but outside the uterus wall. The hormones which cause thickening of this lining inside the uterus also help the tissue outside the uterus to grow as well. Unfortunately, this cannot shed and doesn’t go out of the body as there is no way out. This tissue builds up and keeps growing especially in the lower abdomen and pelvic area; it can be seen outside the ovaries, the uterus, the bladder, fallopian tube, the large intestine and the rectum as well. This later on gets inflamed and results in cysts. It was observed that 1 in 10 women suffer with this condition in their reproductive years.
The symptoms include pelvic pain, severe cramps during periods, difficulty passing stools, etc.
What is IBS?
On the other hand there is IBS which cannot be considered as a health disorder as it doesn’t harm the body much. However it affects the quality of life by creating distress and discomfort in the bowel. There is no clinical sign observed and so it is not considered as a disease. Sometimes it is referred to as mucus colitis or spastic colitis but IBS doesn’t cause inflammation. Few symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, etc.
Endometriosis and IBS
When these two conditions overlap, severe health issues raise which should be diagnosed as soon as possible. Women with Endometriosis usually get diagnosed with IBS. Endometrial tissue when gets inflamed causes IBS. If your symptoms get worse during menstruation then you should get treatment for Endometriosis.
It was found that not everyone suffering with IBS seek medical attention yet 2.4 million and 3.5 million GP visits were observed for IBS in US alone. However the severity of IBS varies a lot. Among them 25% suffer with severe IBS, 35% have moderate IBS and 40% have mild IBS.
10% women in the reproductive years are more prone to develop Endometriosis. In US about 10 million women are suffering from Endometriosis as per latest study. Among infertile women, the chances of getting this disease is 25% – 35%.
The main cause behind IBS is not still clear; however the disturbance between the brain and the gut was found to be one of them. Stress is also involved in this and can affect greatly regarding IBS. The nerve endings of the bowel get unusual sensitivity which causes irregular patterns of motility. That is why it is termed as “irritable”. Stress, medicines you use, food, gaseous distension, hormonal changes, etc. can also cause IBS.
We already know what is Endometriosis and what causes it, but let’s check it in depth. You know that a woman sheds endometrial tissue during her periods but sometimes instead of leaving the body, the blood flows back into the pelvic cavity through fallopian tubes. Though the reason behind this is still unknown specialists doubt this to be leakage through a surgical scar such as a C-section scar. There are 4 stages of Endometriosis; the first stage is minimal where the lesions and the tissue implants on the ovaries of the woman. The second stage is mild where the same is seen on the ovaries and pelvic lining; the third stage is moderate where these are deep implants, and in the fourth stage which is severe, along with deep implants lesions implant on the bowel and fallopian tubes.
If you have symptoms of IBS and you fit in this criteria, doctor may suggest you some treatment for it without further tests, but if these tests fail, then you might have to undergo few more tests like x-ray, colonoscopy, CT scans, blood tests, breath tests, stool tests, etc.
But in addition to the normal symptoms, you face any unusual symptoms like those of Endometriosis, doctor may exam your pelvic region. Doctor may also advise you for an ultrasound test. This test usually determines if there is any cyst present. Laparoscopy is the test which can determine if you have Endometriosis or not.
As said before, the causes of IBS is not exactly known; thus a doctor focuses more on relieving the pain than treating it. While in trial for removing all those symptoms, you need to make changes to your lifestyle by taking appropriate diet, and avoiding high gas and gluten foods.
Treatment of Endometriosis differ based on the severity of the condition; it can be medication or surgery. Over the counter medication, contraceptives, hormone therapy, etc. are few of the medications.
Mostly a doctor tries to avoid surgery and prefer medication; however if required the Endometriotic tissues are removed so that there is no issue related to pregnancy later. In severe cases where childbearing is not possible, hysterectomy is suggested. Hysterectomy is a kind of surgery where part of or entire reproductive system is removed.
Usually, women neglect it thinking it is just IBS or menstrual cramp but it is very important to consider it if you see unusual symptoms. Avoiding this can later result in severe Endometriosis which can result in a surgery. Women are still unaware of many things related to diseases and health conditions of the reproductive organs and keep avoiding them. Educating self is very essential to keep self safe from such diseases.