One of the biggest symptoms and often ignored signs that women have with endometriosis is period pain. We simply believe it is normal to have period pain. Our mom had it, our friends have it and so I guess we have it too. The thing is, pain can’t be measured and it certainly can’t be seen so knowing whether you period pain is comparable to what is considered “normal” is often quite hard. I know many of us have simply ignored the pain for years and simply took period pain tablets from the pharmacy thinking this was normal. For me, the big light bulb moment came when the basic period pain drugs from the pharmacy were simply not enough. I needed stronger and stronger medication and I was taking the maximum allowed volume for every day of my period and between my periods.
For some of us, this is usually when we recognize that there might be something more severe going on, or at least I hope so!
So, what do other women experience? How do we know if our period pain is endometriosis or simply considered the standard period pain other women get?
- Length of pain. Women with endometriosis often suffer the most for the first two days but they still continue to have pain right throughout the full length of the period. Often into days 3 and 4 and even 5.
- Frequency of pain. When you have endometriosis, it is likely that you will have period pain every single month. Women who don’t have endometriosis have pain every now and again. They might be a little more sore during stressful times but overall they don’t have severe pain every single month.
- Able to run around and do exercise. I know this was the biggest signal for me! Endometriosis knocks you. It doesn’t just make you sore but you can’t do any strenuous exercise. I get incredibly nauseous and faint when I try. The pain is also much more intense if I run around or do anything physically demanding. Women without endometriosis are able to still do some level of physical activity without too much pain. I know a girl who went running up and down hills on her first day of her period. I totally looked at her with envy for that one!
- Feeling pain in a particular spot during your period. Generally your period pain should feel like a slight cramping and elimination of fluids (I guess like a soft case of diarrhea). Women with endometriosis often feel pain in a particular spot, left or right of the abdomen before and during their period.
- Accompanied by other conditions and symptoms. When you have endometriosis, you are likely to experience other symptoms along with your period. Things like diarrhea, constipation, skin break-outs, painful muscles and aches and pains in your joints, high levels of PMS symptoms before your periods and headaches, migraines, nausea and even heightened allergy symptoms. You are likely to feel particularly run down, you might catch a cold or get a sore throat. Women often have trouble passing urine and experience pain going to the toilet. It all feels really swollen and sore when you go and then when you’ve gone, you feel like you need to go again! I used to literally get sick from my period. I would get such a bad case of hormones that I would throw up.
- Feeling really tired. It is normal to feel a little tired when you get your period as your body is excreting and moving things out. When you have endometriosis though, you are physically exhausted. You find everything hard and tiring and energy draining. You find simple tasks too much and everything becomes difficult because you’re sore and tired. You need to go to bed early as your eyes are literally dropping to sleep, especially on your first and second day.
- You are extra emotional. Women with endometriosis often get emotional when they get their period and even during their period. Most women actually “release” many of their emotions (PMS symptoms) once they start their period where we actually seem to get more emotional. It might be because of other factors, including being tired and sore but many of us seem to actually feel quite depressed and overcome with things being “too hard” during our period. I know for me, my period is always a time when I tend to feel quite “low” and negative.
- Your best time of the month is the week after your period. You have energy and feel positive and light. Your stomach isn’t bloated and you seem to glide through life. This is the time when you have the most energy and you feel little or no pain. This is because it is the time when your hormones are “resting” and not as active. Women without endometriosis don’t notice this extreme lapse in how they feel about their health and energy levels.
- Do you bloat up to the point where you need to buy a whole extra size during your period time? This is a distinctive sign that something is not right. Endometriosis causes bloating and swelling of the abdominal area for most women. I know I have special “period pain” clothes to ensure I am comfortable and hide the bulge during that time!
- The stuff that comes out. This is kinda yucky but it is really important to wear a pad rather than tampons, so you can actually see what comes out. When you suffer from endometriosis, it is likely that the stuff that comes out is dark red, almost brown and slightly lumpy. When things are better or normal, they go a more red color. This does not apply if you are on the pill as the pill prevents ovulation and the bleeding you are experiencing is not a real period.
So, I hope this helps you determine whether your period is normal or if you already know you have endometriosis it can give you the signs on whether your endometriosis is improving. If you have a close girlfriend you feel comfortable sharing with, ask her what her experience is like. Does she have all the symptoms you have? Does she experience pain with every period? What similarities or differences can you pick up?
Endometriosis is such a hard condition to diagnose, even just for yourself because the symptoms just don’t seem that obvious. You often don’t associate other symptoms with period pain or simply think you are “overly stressed” or that you perhaps just “ate something you shouldn’t have”. There are so many women with endo now—1 in 7 women and so many of us still have no idea we have it!
The hardest thing is not leaving it too long before you make changes to healing your body.
This Post Has 9 Comments
Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read more things about it! Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful info particularly the last part 🙂
Certainly sounds like Endo. Try using a Castor Oil pack for some instant relief. Also really look at your diet and what you are eating. I know a girl who had these reactions from a particular preservative – 203-210 I think (found in wine) and once she cut that out she no longer had the attacks of pain. http://endoempowered.com/could-this-be-your-easy-affordable-solution-for-endometriosis/
I hope you find some relief and answers in my blog 🙂
i have read through and im having the same symptoms too.. my son is now 13 months old.. i used to have really bad pain after sex and around periods but had ultrasounds and was told it was just period pain… but since my son the pains have got worse and since march ive been admitted to hosp 3 times with unbearable pain the day of or day before my period is due.. it actually feels so painful and i get a pressure as if im in labour and need to push (sorry if tmi).. ive had more scans and im finally being referred to gynae but have to wait another 5 weeks… last night i had this pain again and the only pain relief that seems to help is voltarol suppoitories but the dr will not perscribe these ( my sister is nurse and gave me them) .. ive now been perscribed buscopan (which is for ibs) so i dont know how this will help but im willing to try as i have a period like pain all through the month and severe pain after walking for a long while or when period is due .. so bad i have to call a family member to look after my son… id like to hear if anyone else has any views whether this could be endo or not 🙂 thanks
Brilliant and so happy to hear that it has opened your eyes that it could be endo! Extreme pain and vomiting is definitely not normal 🙂 Glad it has helped 🙂
Thanks for this! I can’t remember a time in my life where i DIDNT have extreme pain during my period, particularly the first, second, and even third days. Now especially I feel like I’m getting worse, with a dull pain lasting the whole length of my period, and occasionally at other times. I, too, get to be in so much pain that I am prone to vomitting, though it has become such a natural occurence that I’m used to it by now: it’s practically a given that at least once a month I get sick because of my period. The worst is having to leave school/work because I get sick, and then everyone asks about it. I always knew I had bad cramps, worse than most people, but I just felt it was my lot in life. But now, the fact that I have to take multiple painkillers a day, sometimes more than the allotted dose in a day, I’ve decided it’s about time to find out if this is endo or not.
Hi Nic. I know there is a heap of info on here and on the internet and quite often they contradict themselves. I found the best thing is to listen to your body. If you body is feeling tired, you are getting headaches, pains, nausea – anything… this is not normal. You will know when something is right. I am not against surgery as it can “clean you out”. What concerns me is the recommendations after surgery 🙁
Also read Carolyn’s site. It has heaps more medically based info: http://www.endo-resolved.com
Waiting could be your blessing in disguise. Why not use the time to try some of my natural methods? You may feel so good you won’t even want to go through with it! 🙂
Thanks Melissa, I am coming to that point of knowing that Natural is the only way. I am on a waiting list for an appointment at gyne here in CHCH but was told in December in Hastings I need more surgery- unfortunately I have to start the waiting game all over again (for an initial appt then more waiting for surgery) when I moved here 8 weeks ago. Money is tight at the moment with me only just having found work but is a priority- I am just about to read your article on Soy Products as I am vege/vegan and drink Soy Milk once a day, luckily not Tofu type products though, I guess I feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of info and recommendations which differ from Doctor to Doctor or friend, to this site etc but I know I have to do things differently. Umm, I was probably 16 or 17 when I knew it wasn’t normal (or as I type thing I am thinking maybe even younger) and I had my first surgery at 18 which showed nothing but due to the ongoing nature of my symptoms and family history they want to operate again.
You can get there! Just hang in there and go natural! I know it takes longer but I have so few bad days now! 🙂 How long did it take to discover it wasn’t normal?
The biggest part of knowing my periods and pain are different from women without endo is the timing. I get pain at any time during the month now (the Mirena and pill have impacted this as well) and the severity of pain. I have always experienced pain that does not match that of a “normal” cycle and my bowel symptoms are another thing that reflects a not so normal period.
Having to go to bed with a wheat bag, bending down in agony from cramps, ending up in hospital on pain killers and a low energy when things feel so hard and overwhelming when I have pain are other examples as you have mentioned above. Oh how we all long for a normal cycle, “normal” cramps and light bleeding!! x