The cramps you get during your period can be tough. But if you have endometriosis, the pain can feel so intense it can affect your daily routine, and it even can stop you from doing some of the things you love.
Endometriosis is when the same cells that make up the lining of your uterus, the endometrium, grow outside of the uterus and attach to other parts of your body. This can be very painful, especially during your period.
If you think you might have it, knowing what it feels like is the first step in getting help.
Endometriosis vs. Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps are common, and you can usually get rid of them with over-the-counter medication or home remedies. But the pain from endometriosis is sometimes called “killer cramps” because it can be severe enough to stop you in your tracks. For a lot of women, it gets worse as they get older.
Aside from the pain, other symptoms include:
- Really long or extremely heavy periods
- Severe migraines or lower back pain during your period
- Painful bowel movements
- Allergies that get worse around your period
- Bleeding between periods
Pain from Endometriosis
Pelvic or belly pain might start before your period and last for several days. It can feel sharp and stabbing, and it usually won’t go away with medication.
Some women say it feels like their insides are being pulled down, and they have a gnawing or throbbing feeling that can be severe.
Backache. Your uterus and ovaries are near your back, and belly pain that makes you hunch over can hurt your back, too.
Leg pain. Endometriosis can affect nerves that connect to your groin, hips, and legs. This can make it hard to walk, and you may have to rest often or even limp.
Painful sex. Many women with endometriosis feel pain while having sex or for up to 2 days later. For some, it feels stabbing or sharp. Others describe it as an ache in the pelvic area.
Painful bowel movements . Depending on the areas affected by endometriosis, it might hurt to go to the bathroom. If it’s severe, it might also cause bleeding and constipation.
Endometriosis and Infertility
Endometriosis can make it hard to get pregnant. It may happen if the tissue growing outside the uterus causes scarring, which can affect your fallopian tubes and keep an egg and sperm from meeting. It can also stop a fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus.
Surgery can remove the extra tissue, which may make it easier to get pregnant. Or you may decide to look into assisted reproductive techniques (such as in vitro fertilization) to help you conceive.