It takes an average of 7.5 years to get an official diagnosis of endometriosis. This is far too long to endure this condition without any answers. You deserve to know what is causing you chronic pain, heavy bleeding, fatigue and other symptoms.
One of the ways you can give yourself the best chance of a diagnosis is by knowing what symptoms to recognise, when to see a doctor, and how to communicate your experience to them.
Here’s a breakdown of the things you need to know, including when to get yourself checked for endometriosis:
Spotting endometriosis symptoms
The sooner you identify that something is not right with your body, the sooner you can do something about it. These are the symptoms that are most often linked to endometriosis:
- Chronic pain in your lower stomach, back and legs
- Very heavy periods
- Pain during and/or after sex
- Menstrual or chronic fatigue
- Extreme period pains that interfere with your life
- Pain when going to the toilet and blood in your pee during your period
- Feeling sick/constipation/diarrhea
- Difficulty getting pregnant
By tracking your menstrual cycle using a period tracker or a diary, you’ll be able to keep track of how often you experience these symptoms, and where they tend to fall in your cycle. This will be really helpful when it comes to communicating your experience with your doctor.
When to see a doctor about endometriosis
If you have endometriosis, it’s likely that your symptoms will worsen during your period, so be prepared to observe them closely at this time of the month. If you’ve noticed some of the symptoms listed above, either on your period or throughout your cycle, you should book an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.
Given the average length of time it takes to diagnose endometriosis, and the anecdotal experiences of womxn with endo, it will very likely take more than one visit, and more than one doctor to reach a diagnosis. This is why it’s important to be persistent – keep a record of how often the symptoms have impacted on your daily life and, if you can, book an appointment each cycle that you experience these symptoms.
Communicating your endometriosis symptoms
One reason it takes so long to diagnose endometriosis is because a lot of the symptoms could be perceived as ‘just a bad period’ by the uninformed, but endometriosis is a chronic condition that should be taken seriously by doctors and patients alike.
Here are some of our tips for talking to your doctor about your experience with endometriosis symptoms:
- Tell your doctor for how long and how often you’ve had these symptoms, as well as how they have impacted your quality of life. For example, have you missed days of work or cancelled social plans because of pain?
- Make a list of your symptoms before your appointment so that you don’t forget anything.
- Tell your doctor that you think it could be endometriosis. They’re the professionals, but it might not be something they’d considered and could drive discussion towards diagnosis
- If you’ve seen a doctor about this before, be clear that this isn’t your first appointment. It might be helpful to keep a list of dates for each visit you’ve made, and the takeaways from each, to take this along with you to every appointment.
- Take your period tracking device with you to the appointment (whether that’s an app or notebook). This will help you to communicate the frequency and extremity of your symptoms.
- If you’ve found that the symptoms have also impacted on your mental health, ask for advice on how to address this, and see if they can refer you to somebody to talk to about how you’re feeling.
- Ask lots of questions! Anything that you’re unsure about deserves an answer, so make sure you ask.
7.5 years is far too long to suffer in silence, if you’re experiencing endometriosis symptoms, we urge you to see a doctor as soon as you can. In the meantime, here are some ways that might help to relieve your symptoms naturally.