Endometriosis symptoms

The endometriosis symptoms can vary in intensity from one woman to another, and the amount of endometriosis does not always correspond to the amount of pain and discomfort experienced. Some women with endometriosis experience symptoms while others do not. 

The classic endometriosis symptoms include:

  • Painful, heavy, or irregular periods
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Infertility
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Fatigue

Women with endometriosis also report the following symptoms:

Pain symptoms Bleeding symptoms Bowel and bladder symptoms Other symptoms
Painful periods Heavy periods with or without clots Painful bowel movements Tiredness/lack of energy
Pain on ovulation Prolonged bleeding Bleeding from the bowel Depression
Pain during an internal examination 'Spotting' or bleeding between periods Symptoms of irritable bowel (diarrhoea, constipation, bloating - particularly during your period) Back pain
Pain during or after sex Irregular periods Pain when passing urine Leg pain
Pelvic pain Loss of 'old' or 'dark blood' before period Pain before or after passing urine or opening bowel  

All of the symptoms above may have other causes and may not necessarily be endometriosis symptoms. It is important to seek medical advice to clarify the cause of any symptoms. If symptoms change after diagnosis it is important to discuss these changes with your doctor.  It is easy to relate all problems to endometriosis, but it may not always be the reason.

Period pain – what is normal?

Many women experience period pain,but if your pain is interfering with your everyday life, it may be best to consult your doctor.

Most cases of period pain are caused by contractions in the uterus. Blood vessels in the muscle wall are compressed by the contractions, which temporarily cuts off blood supply to the womb, starving it of oxygen and adding to the discomfort. However, in endometriosis the pain is caused by endometrial tissue that has grown outside the uterus. During a period, these endometrial cells break down and bleed. However, this internal bleeding has no way of leaving the body and leads to inflammation, intense pain and a build-up of scar tissue.

Endometriosis is usually characterised by period pain in the days before a period. The periods become typically painful, often meaning days off school, college or work. If period pain is preventing you from carrying out your normal activities, please seek medical advice.

I think I have endometriosis - what should I do?

If you think you have symptoms of endometriosis, it's important that you speak to your doctor. Read our Getting diagnosed with endometriosis section to learn more.

To learn more about endometriosis download our Information Pack

 Understanding Endometriosis Information Pack​