There is an increasing amount of research that shows patients with endometriosis are very likely to also have a diagnosis of IBS. The two disorders hold several of the same features, including low-grade inflammation, increased gut permeability and visceral hypersensitivity (pain of the inner organs). These two conditions are common conditions among young women of reproductive age, findings reveal that women diagnosed with Endometriosis seem to have a two-three higher risk to also fulfil the criteria for IBS.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is when the endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, this tissue is also known as the womb lining. This induces chronic inflammation and other symptoms such as painful periods, deep discomfort during intercourse, pelvic pain, strain during bowel movements and urination, and premenstrual symptoms with or without abnormal bleeding and pain. Those who have endometriosis may also experience symptoms of chronic fatigue, depression and infertility.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects the lower bowel or colon, and is a term used to describe multiple abdominal issues that consist of pain which is often associated with bloating, and bowel dysfunction which is usually classified as constipation, diarrhoea or a combination of both. Individuals with IBS tend to have a sensitive bowel, with triggers occurring from environmental factors such as emotional stress, change of routine and infection.
Why does Endometriosis and IBS get misdiagnosed?
Endometriosis and IBS get misdiagnosed for multiple reasons, the commonality of inflammation and visceral hypersensitivity are the two contributing factors to misdiagnosis. Individuals with Endometriosis have pain symptoms that affect the lower abdomen and rectum, whilst experiencing abdominal fullness, cramping, constipation and nausea. Endometrial tissue can grow on the bowel, lower part of the intestine, appendix and rectum. The pain associated in these areas may be mistaken for IBS, with both conditions worsening bowel symptoms during menstruation.
How do you treat symptoms associated with Endometriosis and IBS?
For symptomatic relief of the symptoms caused by Endometriosis and IBS, the following can be considered:
- Consuming a high fibre diet to reduce constipation, bloating, stomach cramps and diarrhoea
- Regular exercise is a great form of stress management, increasing exercise can aid regulate bowel movements which may ease the pain associated from passing stools in both Endometriosis and IBS
- Medication may need to be used (under the guidance of a general practitioner or specialist), including suppositories, laxatives or forms of birth control.