You may have heard about endometriosis - maybe a friend has it or maybe you have it yourself. Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women and girls globally and it can have a huge impact on your life. From period pain to sex and fertitility issues - the impact can be wide-ranging.But, it’s important to remember that endometriosis can affect every person differently - some women may not experience any of the typical symptoms and some may have no fertility issues. Endometriosis can even affect your bladder.
For most with endometriosis, bladder symptoms are less common but they can happen from two main causes: the condition itself and from surgery for the condition.
In endometriosis there is tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (womb) which starts to grow outside of the womb. It can start to grow in different areas including the:
tissues that support the uterus (womb)
area between the uterus and rectum (posterior cul-de-sac)
area between the uterus and bladder (anterior cul-de-sac)
lining of the pelvis
Occasionally, endometrial tissue is found in other places, such as:
small and large intestine
vulva and vagina
cervix ( the opening of the womb)
abdominal surgery scars such as Caesarean scars
When endometriosis affects the bladder there are two forms:
Superficial – endometrial tissue is on the outside surface of the bladder
Deeper – endometrial tissue in the bladder wall or bladder lining. Sometimes a clump of tissue can form a nodule which can affect the ureter which is the tube we pee out of.
Symptoms for bladder endometriosis can include the following:
Increased toilet trips
Feeling an urgent need to pee and not being able to control it
Pain when you have a full bladder
Blood in your urine when you are menstruating
Pain in the kidney area
These symptoms will typically get worse before and during your period and they may get better once your period is finished- however the specific symptom pattern can vary from individual to individual.
Diagnosis for endometriosis can be difficult as it is a multi-system illness which can affect women differently but it is important to discuss any symptoms that are bothering you with your doctor. Although endometriosis cannot be cured there are medications and surgeries that can help. And, once women go through menopause, typically the symptoms go away.
Treatment can include painkillers and hormonal treatment. There is also the option of surgery and this depends on the severity of your symptoms and where the endometriosis is. Sometimes the endometriosis is reduced with lasers or excised surgically . Sometimes these surgeries require usage of a catheter in the immediate time following surgery.
There can be side effects to surgery and some women who have endometriosis removed in other areas, may develop bladder symptoms as the operation may harm nerves which supply the bladder. You should always be made aware of the risks and benefits of surgery when talking to your doctor.
There are a few myths surrounding endometriosis - it is actually a whole body condition and can cause more than just pain and bleeding around the pelvic area. Symptoms can include brain fog, depression, breathing problems and chest pain.
Due to inflammation from the endometrial tissue, there can be increased risks of other illnesses including heart problems. It is also important to remember that endometriosis affects people in different ways, it may cause infertility issues in one woman but not another or it may affect the gut in some people but not others.
One of the most frustrating features of endometriosis is symptoms not being taken seriously or being dismissed as “normal” and the uncertainty of what condition you may have with it taking years to be diagnosed. This can lead to stigma and additional emotional strain on those suffering with endometriosis. Often following diagnosis, it can be again frustrating when there is difficulty in finding a treatment that works.
Pain may not occur just during menstruation but can also occur at different times of the menstrual cycle. In fact, for some people the symptoms may affect them every single day.
Finally, research about endometriosis is limited and more research is needed to fully understand endometriosis and how to treat it. In the meantime, raising more awareness about this and continuing to talk and share stories about how endometriosis will not only help to drive more research but can also help us find support within a community of others experiencing the same.
Join our newsletter, The Leaky Times, for tips and trick to life’s trickly moments!