Does Endometriosis Cause Bowel Problems

Endometriosis, a chronic medical condition that affects up to 10% of women worldwide, has a significant impact on various aspects of a woman’s life, including her bowel health. This article will explore the question:

“Does endometriosis cause bowel problems?”

and delve into the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of this condition.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a medical condition in which tissue resembling the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, grows outside of the uterus. This tissue can grow on various organs, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and even the bowel.

Endometriosis and Bowel Problems

Endometriosis can affect the bowel in various ways, leading to numerous digestive issues. Specifically, endometriosis can grow on or inside the bowel walls, causing symptoms that are often mistaken for other conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Superficial and Deep Bowel Endometriosis

Bowel endometriosis can present in two forms:

  • Superficial Bowel Endometriosis: This is when endometriosis is found on the surface of the bowel.
  • Deep Bowel Endometriosis: This form of endometriosis penetrates the bowel wall.

In some cases, rectovaginal nodules can start as superficial endometriosis and progress to infiltrate the bowel wall.

Read More: Can Endometriosis Cause Bowel Issues?

Recognizing the Symptoms

The symptoms of bowel endometriosis are similar to those of IBS. However, they can vary with the menstrual cycle, worsening in the days before and during a period. Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain with defecation (dyschezia)
  • Deep pelvic pain during sex (dyspareunia)
  • Rectal bleeding during a period

If you experience these symptoms, it’s crucial to discuss them with your doctor. They may choose to use several techniques for diagnosis, such as a vaginal examination, ultrasound, sigmoidoscopy, laparoscopy, CT, or MRI scan.

Bowel Endometriosis: Causes and Risk Factors

While the definitive cause of endometriosis remains unknown, several potential contributing factors include hormonal imbalances, immune system problems, and genetic factors. Researchers have also found links to genes and stem cells, inflammation, and estrogen levels.

Read More: What Does Bowel Endometriosis Feel Like? Understanding the Pain and Symptoms

Diagnosing Bowel Endometriosis

Diagnosing bowel endometriosis can be challenging due to its similarities with other conditions like IBS. In addition to a physical examination and medical history review, doctors may suggest imaging tests such as transvaginal or transrectal ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), laparoscopy, or barium enema.

Treatment Options for Bowel Endometriosis

The treatment for bowel endometriosis typically involves a combination of painkillers, hormone treatments, and surgeries, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Surgery is usually recommended for bowel endometriosis, with the surgical options varying based on the severity of the condition and the areas affected.

There are three main surgery options for bowel endometriosis:

  • The affected segment of the bowel is removed, and the bowel is rejoined (re-anastomosis).
  • For smaller areas of endometriosis, the disc of affected bowel is cut away, followed by the closure of the hole in the bowel.
  • Affected areas can be “shaved” off the bowel, leaving the bowel intact.

Post-Surgery Recovery and Follow-up

Recovery after any surgery varies depending on the individual. After laparoscopic bowel surgery, you can generally expect to go home within four days. Bowel function may be altered after surgery, particularly with a full resection (re-anastomosis). This does improve over time, although watching your diet to see which food aggravate or improve the situation may be helpful.

The Impact of Delayed Treatment

If bowel endometriosis is not treated properly and promptly, the disease may progress, and quality of life significantly decreases. Small lesions on the bowel can eventually progress and become full-thickness lesions that cause obstruction and may require major bowel surgery.

The Importance of Specialist Care

Because bowel endometriosis deals with your gastrointestinal system, it’s usually not solely treated by a general gynecologist. A collaborative care approach between an endometriosis expert, gastroenterologist, and/or general surgeon may be necessary to treat your bowel endometriosis from all angles.

Read More: Finding an Excision Specialist: What you Need to Know


Understanding the link between endometriosis and bowel problems is vital for improving diagnosis and treatment outcomes. If you’re experiencing symptoms of bowel endometriosis, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor and consider seeing a specialist. In doing so, you’ll be taking an important step towards managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life.


Endometriosis and constipation

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