Endometriosis is a condition in which the uterine lining is found elsewhere in the body. It can be extremely painful for the woman. Intestinal endometriosis is when the endometrial tissue is found within the gastrointestinal system. Infertilityphysician.com reports that the "New England Journal of Medicine" finds intestinal endometriosis to be present in five percent of all women.
Location of Intestinal Endometriosis Symptoms
Symptoms are often noticed throughout the gastrointestinal tract. It is most frequently found in the lower part of the colon (known as the sigmoid) or rectum. The next popular site is the appendix, followed by the beginning of the colon (known as the cecum), the final portion of the small intestine (known as the ileum) and the transverse colon.
Women suffering from intestinal endometriosis usually experience difficulty eating, as they suffer a loss of appetite, have crampy stomach pain and nausea with rare vomiting. They become bloated and gassy. They alternate between constipation and diarrhea, often with painful bowel movements and sometimes rectal bleeding. These symptoms most often occur during the menstruation part of the cycle. However, a mild, or superficial, case can present with few to no symptoms.
Other Possible Symptoms
Women suffering from intestinal endometriosis may also have iron-deficient anemia. A study done at Baylor University showed that women with confirmed diagnoses tested with low blood sugar, with normal insulin levels, during a glucose tolerance test.
Because symptoms are so similar, women are often mistakenly diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or a spastic colon. The rectal bleeding may lead to an initial diagnosis of colon or rectal cancer.
Diagnosing Intestinal Endometriosis
To diagnose intestinal endometriosis, the doctor must ask several medical history questions, including symptoms, duration of symptoms and occurrence of symptoms. X-rays, colonoscopies and laparoscopies may be performed, though they do not always uncover the endometrial tissue. Sometimes the tissue is only discovered during an open abdominal surgical procedure.