Endometriosis Symptoms

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on December 11, 2022
2 min read

The cramps you get during your period can be tough. But if you have endometriosis, the pain may be so intense that it affects your daily routine. It might even stop you from doing some of the things you love.

Endometriosis is when the same type of cells that make up the lining of your uterus, the endometrium, grow outside it and attach to other parts of your body. Knowing what it feels like is the first step in getting help.

Some women call the pain from endometriosis “killer cramps” because it can be severe enough to stop you in your tracks. For many, it gets worse as they get older.

Other endometriosis symptoms include:

Endometriosis can cause pain in more than one area of your body, including:

Pelvic or belly pain. It might start before your period and last several days. It can feel sharp and stabbing, and medication usually won’t help.

Some women say it feels like their insides are being pulled down. They have a gnawing or throbbing feeling that can be severe.

Backache. Your uterus and ovaries are near your back. 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. You may limp or have to rest often.

Painful sex. Many women with endometriosis feel pain while having sex or up to 2 days later. For some, it feels stabbing or sharp. Others describe it as an ache in their pelvic area.

Painful bowel movements. Depending on the affected areas, it might hurt to poop.

Endometriosis can make it hard to get pregnant. This may happen if the tissue growing outside your 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 your uterus.

Surgery can remove the extra tissue, which may make it easier to get pregnant. Or you might try assisted reproductive technology (such as in vitro fertilization) to help you conceive.