If you suffer from endometriosis, it's likely that you have pain, inflammation and irritation in your abdominal area on a regular cycle; as many as 6.3 million women in the U.S. suffer from this disease.
The type of tissue that lines your uterus, endometrium, breaks down each month that you're not pregnant and is shed as part of your menstrual cycle. But when that tissue migrates to other areas of your body and breaks down the same way, there's no place for it to go. The shed tissue stays inside and causes pain and internal bleeding.
For most women, this tissue migrates to the outside of the uterus, or someplace else close, like the ovaries or Fallopian tubes.
But researchers are finding that some women who suffer from endometriosis have bladder and bowel pain or related complications. Sometimes this is called visceral syndrome.
What is Visceral Syndrome?
Seven symptoms make up what is called visceral syndrome:
- Abdominal pain that isn't connected to menstruation
- Pain when urinating, also called dysuria
- Pain when defecating, also called dyschezia
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Irregular bleeding
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lethargy or experiencing a lack of energy
One 2014 study found that women with endometriosis are several times more likely to experience between five and all seven of these symptoms -- 22.7 percent with endometriosis vs. 2.7 percent of women without.
How are Endometriosis and Visceral Syndrome Related?
Researchers aren't sure exactly why the connection between the two conditions is so high, but it's likely that endometrium has migrated in some way to the bladder or intestinal tract and is impacting the functions of those organs. Often, though, endometrium cannot be detected in or on the bladder or bowel, so it's still an assumption.
There is also research into what's called myofascial pain or myofascial dysfunction as a cause of these connected diseases. Myofascial pain happens when there is pressure on one muscle and it causes pain in another, separate area of the body. This is sometimes called referred pain, and it can be difficult to officially diagnose and treat.
Some research shows a correlation between these types of connected pain and laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgical technique which is often used to get biopsies of tissue in endometriosis sufferers.
What Can You Do To Reduce Pain from Visceral Syndrome?
Because doctors are still learning about visceral syndrome pain and how it is connected to endometriosis, there are no easy solutions to reducing the symptoms.
Managing pain through lifestyle changes, relaxation techniques and medication is a common approach. Surgery can help to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of endometriosis, but there are no studies on how this can help reduce pain from visceral syndrome.
Talk to your gynecology specialist about your options for reducing the symptoms from endometriosis and associated visceral syndrome.