Studies show a connection between fibromyalgia and endometriosis. One diagnosed with endometriosis is at higher risk of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue imitating the natural tissue of the uterus lining, the endometrium, forms abnormally on the outside of your uterus. This painful disorder generally affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue in the abdominal cavity. This condition seldom spread outside the limits of pelvic organs.
When one has endometriosis, the abnormal tissue on the outside of the uterus imitate the activity of endometrial tissue which increases in thickness, breaks apart and bleed upon every menstrual cycle. As it is located on the outside of the uterus, this abnormal tissue cannot exit the body like normal endometrial tissue and remains inside the body. Endometriosis can occur at the ovaries causing cysts known as endometriomas. The adjacent tissues can be affected resulting in injured tissue and adhesions.
Endometriosis is painful disease which can be become unbearable particularly during menstruation. The patient suffering from the condition can also experience fertility issues. On a good note, there are adequate treatments for the condition.
How are Fibromyalgia and Endometriosis linked?
According to a 2002 research, women diagnosed with endometriosis have a twofold chances of having fibromyalgia and over a hundred-fold chances of having CFS. They are also more susceptible to allergies and skin conditions like eczema, both associated conditions to fibromyalgia. In fact, the study showed that women with both fibromyalgia and endometriosis have 88% chance of having allergies. The study suggest a strong connection between fibromyalgia and endometriosis. It also links endometriosis with other autoimmune diseases and CFS. The study suggests that physicians should be aware of the likelihood of endometriosis in fibromyalgia and the mentioned disorders.
Another more recent study investigating fibromyalgia and endometriosis found supporting evidence of the higher fibromyalgia prevalence in endometriosis. The 2019 study also made other interesting findings. This research conducted a data analysis of above 2 million people from a healthcare plan in Israel.
Researchers found that women suffering from both fibromyalgia and endometriosis are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjogren syndrome.
They also found a high occurrence of anxiety and depression women with both fibromyalgia and endometriosis. Around 66% of these patients had medical records of anxiety and depression. In addition, the study showed an increased rate of hospitalization in these patients.
One interesting finding showed that 43% of the women with both fibromyalgia and endometriosis had the former diagnosis before the latter. 17% had the diagnosis of both fibromyalgia and endometriosis within a year. This finding prompts physicians to examine fibro patients, who exhibit abdominal and pelvic symptoms, for endometriosis.
The findings of both studies caution physicians, and patients themselves, to look out for endometriosis in fibromyalgia and vice versa. Researchers also suggest patients with either or both conditions to test for autoimmune diseases.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
The main symptom of endometriosis is pain in the pelvis, similar to that of menstrual pain. Those diagnosed with endometriosis generally complain of having very severe menstrual pain which progressively worsens.
Here are the typical signs and symptoms of endometriosis:
- Menstrual cramps – Pelvic cramps can occur before menstruation and last many days. The pain can also spread to the lower back and abdomen.
- Intercourse pain – Pain can occur during or after intercourse
- Pain in the bowels or urinary tract – pain can occur in these areas usually during menstruation
- Abnormal Bleeding – sporadic heavy menstruation or unusual bleeding in between menstruations
- Fertility issues – endometriosis is commonly identified in patients consulting treatment for infertility
- Other signs and symptoms which usually surface during menstruation include fatigue, bowel symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloated stomach and nausea.
Despite of being a painful disorder, the intensity of pain experienced by the patient may not reflect the extent of endometriosis. One may have moderate endometriosis with severe pain while the other may have severe endometriosis with moderate or negligible pain.
One similarity between fibromyalgia and endometriosis is that both conditions can be mixed up with other disorders. Endometriosis can be confused with other conditions that produce pain in the pelvic and abdomen area. They include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ovarian cysts and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).