Endometriosis can attack various organs located in and around the pelvic area. One of the areas that it often attacks is the bowel. This endometriosis condition is one of the most misdiagnosed, along with bladder endometriosis.
Endometriosis can affect the bowel in two different ways:
- Superficial: Where it only affects the surface of the bowel.
- Deeper: When it’s found inside the bowel after it penetrates its walls. The latter can cause more serious symptoms.
If recto-vaginal nodules have formed, they may later go from a superficial stage to a deeper stage and move into the bowel.
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As with most cases of endometriosis, the symptoms will worsen with the menstrual cycle. There will be particularly bad days before and during your period.
At first the symptoms will resemble irritable bowel syndrome, so keep an eye out for things like difficulty or pain going to the bathroom, pain in the pelvic area during sex and bleeding from your rectum during your period.
If you notice any of these symptoms, discuss them with your doctor as soon as possible so you can be properly diagnosed. There are many options for diagnosis — if your doctor suspects it to be deeper, they may ask for an MRI or a CT scan, but there are other options, including an ultrasound, a sigmoidoscopy, a laparoscopy, and more.
Patients can choose to try and control symptoms with different hormones and painkillers, but if the endometriosis isn’t treated, the symptoms will get worse. Some women have reported complementary therapies and treatments have helped fight the symptoms, but none of these treatments have been scientifically proven to be effective.
MORE: Six complementary therapies to ease endometriosis symptoms
Depending on how the endometriosis has affected your bowel, there are different approaches a doctor may take. To treat this type of endometriosis, the best treatment option is often surgery, and there are three surgical options:
- A removal of the whole affected tissue with an open surgery
- Scrapping off the affected tissue therefore leaving the bowel intact
- If the tissue is small enough, a small disc of the bowel can be removed followed by a closure of the removed tissue
As with all surgeries, there’s a possibility of post-op complications like leaks and infections. If there are complications, your recovery time will be extended. Generally, if the surgery is done laparoscopically, it will be a shorter recovery time (less than a week). If it was an open surgery, recovery could take up to two weeks. It’s a good idea to watch your diet after bowel surgery, so you reduce the chances of painful or unusual bowel functions.
MORE: Four things to know about endometriosis surgery
Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.