There are many symptoms of endometriosis and fibroids that can appear similar, but the only way to figure out what exactly is going on is to visit a doctor. While it can be hard to tell if you’re experiencing endometriosis or fibroids, you can use this as a general guide for distinguishing between the two conditions.
Do I have fibroids or endometriosis?
Reproductive health disorders often share symptoms with other conditions, and this is true of fibroids and endometriosis. Both conditions cause a similar symptom profile, which is why it is crucial to visit an Ob/Gyn when distinguishing whether your symptoms are caused by endometriosis or fibroids. Shared symptoms include dysmenorrhea (difficult menstrual cramps and painful periods), pain during sex, and abnormal bleeding. However, it’s important to know that these conditions affect the body differently. If you’re unsure whether you have endometriosis or fibroids symptoms (or have symptoms that overlap), keep reading.
Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus, known as the endometrium, grows elsewhere, such as on surrounding organs within the pelvic cavity, like the ovaries, behind the uterus, on the bowels, or on the bladder. Symptoms commonly seen with endometriosis often affect not just the pelvic area, but also other systems of the body. Characteristics associated with endometriosis are:
- Pelvic pain that may worsen during menstruation
- Abnormal bleeding (when a woman with endometriosis has her period, she bleeds from both the cells and tissue inside her uterus and outside her uterus)
- Bloody urine
- Pain in the low abdomen
- Pain or cramping during intercourse
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Lower back pain
- Excessive bleeding
- Chronic fatigue
Because endometrial tissue can grow on the lining of the digestive tract, intestines, rectum, between the uterine wall and the rectum, and the appendix, this can lead to painful bowel movements as well as diarrhea and nausea. Irritated tissue that sticks to organs can sometimes fuse those organs together, distorting the anatomy and causing painful inflammation. This can even cause inflammatory changes that put pressure on nerves in the pelvis and the hips. These symptoms are not seen with fibroids.
Cysts, known as endometriomas, can sometimes form when endometrial tissue grows on the ovaries, making it hard to get pregnant.
Fibroids are a condition in which benign tumors develop in or on the uterus. These tumors can vary in size and number, and are classified into four types of fibroids based on their location. All of these factors play a role in the symptoms that a woman experiences. While some fibroids don’t produce any symptoms at all, others can cause debilitating symptoms, such as heavy, prolonged, and painful periods. Characteristics associated with fibroids include:
- Fibroid Bleeding
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Fibroid pain
- Pain during sex
- Enlarged uterus
- Weight gain
- Weak bladder control
- Frequent urination
- Pelvic pressure distended and bloated abdomen
- Lower back pain and pain in the back of the legs
- Anemia that can lead to a lack of energy and fatigue
Symptomatic fibroids usually present with heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding between periods, and severe menstrual pain. The presence of these tumors can reduce the likelihood of pregnancy in those attempting conception. While both conditions have overlapping symptoms, there are subtle differences. Check your endometriosis or fibroid symptoms below.
|✓||✓||Abnormal menstrual bleeding|
|✓||✓||Dysmenorrhea (painful periods)|
|✓||✓||Bleeding between periods|
|✓||✓||Pain during sex|
|✓||Pain while going to the bathroom during your period|
|✓||✓||Pain in your stomach, lower back, or rectum|
|✓||✓||Unexplained tiredness or lack of energy|
|✓||Digestive or gastrointestinal issues or symptoms|
|✓||✓||Pain in the lower abdomen|
Diagnosis & Care for Endometriosis or Fibroids
If you’re experiencing heavy bleeding or any of the other symptoms of endometriosis or fibroids, our top-rated women’s health specialists are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat your symptoms. With longer, in-depth appointments, one-on-one patient education, and an interdisciplinary team of specialists all in house, we provide you with comprehensive, empowering care.