Intestinal problems are common in endometriosis — at least 30 percent of patients, probably more, have some intestinal symptoms. But endometriosis isn't the first problem doctors think of when they hear patients complain about intestinal issues. In fact, endometriosis may be the last diagnosis they consider. Despite this fact, endometriosis in the intestines, not the pelvic area, is the most common site for post-menopausal women.
You don't have to have endometriosis on your intestines to have intestinal symptoms; in fact, most people with symptoms don't have endometriosis on their intestines. Most symptoms are due to irritation from endometrial implants in adjacent areas (such as the ligaments) and adhesions from other areas to the intestines. In addition, inflammatory factors can affect intestinal function just as they can affect other organs.
Endometriosis can cause the following intestinal issues:
1 Abdominal bloating 1 Abdominal pain
When patients do have endometriosis on their intestines, the implants are usually superficial, which means they're found just on the surface of the intestine, and may be easy to remove. But, because most symptoms come from inflammatory issues and not from the endometriosis implants themselves, removal of the implants on the intestines may not cure the pain and cramping.
Sometimes endometriosis in areas right next to the intestines can cause intestinal symptoms. This effect is most common near the uterosacral ligaments or rectovaginal septum (see Chapter 3 for more on these areas) because the intestine is in contact with these areas. The inflammatory process around these other areas can cause intestinal symptoms as well. Adhesions that attach intestines to nearby organs can also cause intestinal symptoms.
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