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a woman lies on the couch holding her low belly in pain due to endometriosis

The most common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Intense menstrual cramping
  • Long, heavy periods
  • Bloating and constipation
  • Urinary problems
  • Painful sex
  • Lower-back pain
  • Chronic fatigue.

It’s also possible to have endometriosis and be asymptomatic, notes Cindy Geyer, MD, a functional-medicine physician at the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Mass. In these cases, infertility may be the first sign that anything is amiss.

For those who do experience pain, it’s often severe. “We’re talking about sometimes debilitating pain, where women might have a hard time functioning at work or need to go to the emergency room because of significant discomfort,” Geyer says. Even bowel movements can be intensely painful if there are implants on the intestines.

Endometriosis can sometimes fuse the back wall of the vagina to the front wall of the rectum, seriously disrupting sexual pleasure. Still, painful intercourse is just one of the ways the condition can challenge intimate relationships.

“Pain itself can contribute to depression, irritability, and mood challenges,” Geyer says. Add infertility, fatigue, and the side effects of medications often used to treat the condition, and it can have a devastating impact on quality of life.

Explore how dietary and lifestyle adjustments can alleviate the discomfort of this painful condition by reading “A Functional-Medicine Approach to Endometriosis,” from which this article was excerpted.

Mo Perry

Mo Perry is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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