The cramps you get during your period can be tough. If you suffer from endometriosis though, the pain could be so strong that it could affect your daily routine. Severe pain during intercourse could also be a sign of endometriosis. In both cases, you should speak to your doctor.

Could endometriosis be the cause?

For many years, women thought that strong pain during their periods or during intercourse is normal, but it is not.

Two of the most common symptoms of endometriosis are:

  • severe pain during your periods (dysmenorrhea)

  • painful intercourse (dyspareunia), meaning persistent or recurrent pain that occurs during or after intercourse.

Endometriosis is notoriously difficult to diagnose. The symptoms of endometriosis are similar to other gynecological conditions.

One in 10 women have endometriosis and many are not diagnosed

One in 10 women are affected by endometriosis and often there is a delay of diagnosis for 7-12 years, as endometriosis’ symptoms are similar to other gynecological conditions. Many women with endometriosis remain undiagnosed.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a gynecological disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus (the endometrium) grows outside your uterus. The right tissue at the wrong place.

In endometriosis, the endometrial-like tissue acts as endometrial tissue would. It thickens and then breaks down and bleeds in each menstrual cycle.

The ectopic endometrium has no way to exit your body, so it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form.

Surrounding tissue can become inflamed, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions (abnormal bands of fibrous tissue that cause the internal organs to stick to each other).

Endometriosis can cause strong pain, especially during menstrual periods and very often during the sexual act. Another common symptom of endometriosis is infertility. Fortunately, effective treatments are available.

Endometriosis or normal menstrual cramps?

Menstrual cramps are common and usually can be treated with over-the-counter medication or home remedies. Endometriosis is associated with pain that women call “killer cramps”. Some women say it feels like “their insides are being pulled down”.

Endometriosis pain often stops young women from going to school or having a social life. In adulthood often the pain gets worse and in many cases, they miss days from work.

Endometriosis or “normal” pain during sex?

Painful intercourse can occur for different reasons, ranging from structural problems to psychological concerns. But is also the cardinal symptom of endometriosis. Especially deep dyspareunia.

If dyspareunia is persistent, you should talk to your doctor.

Other symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Very long or extremely heavy periods

  • Migraines

  • Bleeding between periods

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Infertility. Surgery can remove the extra tissue, which may make it easier to get pregnant. You may decide to use assisted reproductive techniques like in vitro fertilization(IVF) to help you conceive

  • Painful bowel movements

  • Leg pain that can make it hard to walk. Endometriosis can affect nerves that connect to your groin, hips, and legs.

  • Severe backache. The uterus and ovaries are near your back and endometriosis pain can affect your back too.