The Link Between Endometriosis and IBD
Today as I was reading through medical news on IBD I found something that literally made my heart sink. According to a new long term study on IBD, women with suspected endometriosis are at an up to 50% higher risk for developing IBD and those with endometriosis confirmed surgically had an up to 80% increase in risk (1). As some of you know from my previous posts I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my early 20s and ended up having a hysterectomy to deal with the pain from endo as well as other issues.
Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus (endometrium) migrates and grows in areas outside of the uterus. Symptoms of endometriosis are heavy periods, severe abdominal pain and infertility. Diagnosis can be suspected upon symptoms but can only be confirmed with a biopsy of the tissue.
Sometimes endometriosis can occur on the intestine or in the GI tract, known as intestinal endometriosis. This disease process can cause similar symptoms to IBD including intestinal pain, diarrhea, or bloody stools. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis because the treatments do vary.
Researchers are not sure why women with endometriosis are at a higher risk for IBD. It may be that some of the treatments for endometriosis are contributing to IBD. Endometriosis has long been thought to be an autoimmune disease so it could be that IBD and endometriosis are both autoimmune related and likely to be found together for that reason alone.
Whatever the reason, if you have been diagnosed with either endometriosis or IBD be aware of the other condition. If you have symptoms discuss the issue with your physician in order to get accurate treatment. Both diseases are treated more effectively when they are caught in the early stages.