Heavy Periods: Could It Be Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is tricky to diagnose because it’s a complex condition. Most women are only diagnosed with endometriosis after seven years from the onset of their symptoms. Endometriosis is a result of the formation of endometrial-like tissue outside the lining of the uterine wall, which can result in adhesion formation and internal scar tissue. This scar tissue can cause the organs within the pelvic region to adhere or stick to each other when they should move independently. As a result, women experience various symptoms, including heavy periods and intense period pain. If you experience heavy periods, you may ask yourself, could it be endometriosis?

How Endometriosis Affects Your Period

If you have endometriosis, your periods will typically be heavy and painful. In fact, endometriosis is one of the top causes of heavy periods, but it isn’t the only symptom of endometriosis. Because endometriosis can affect other organs in your pelvic region, you may experience bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. Some women also report intense fatigue. Your period may also last longer, and your cycles may become shorter, leading you to bleed more often than every 28 days—and even between periods.

Your period is too heavy if:

  • You soak pads and tampons in an hour or less
  • You pass large blood clots
  • Your period lasts longer than seven days
  • Your heavy flow inhibits your daily activities.

As a result of a heavy period, you may even experience fatigue and light-headedness.

Pain and Endometriosis

Heavy periods are also associated with pain. Endometrial-like tissue often grows around the ovaries or beneath the uterus, leading to swelling, pain, inflammation, and scarring. Left untreated, the tissue may continue to grow in and around your other organs, making your periods increasingly painful. It may be difficult to locate the endometrial tissue without thorough examination, which is why it’s essential to track your symptoms, heavy periods, and accompanying period pain or pain not related to your period, to get a more accurate diagnosis. While a certain amount of pain typically accompanies periods, if the pain is debilitating and doesn’t respond to pain and anti-inflammatory medication, you must consider seeing a doctor. You should still be able to continue your day-to-day activities when you have your period.

What Kind of Pain Does Endometriosis Cause?

The period pain accompanied by endometriosis has been described as killer cramps, which explains why it affects your daily activities. These cramps may manifest as intense throbbing contractions or sudden sharp, stabbing pains, which may leave you short of breath. Some women have even described the pain as an electric shock. This pain may not be limited to the reproductive organs; you may experience lower back pain, pain during bowel movements and urination, severe migraines, and deep pelvic pain during intercourse.

If you—or someone you know—experience these symptoms, there’s no good reason to suffer in silence, regardless of the stigma attached. Monitor your symptoms and seek medical assistance from a trained professional. If you feel your doctor is not giving you the care you need, get a second opinion from a specialist…….then get your doctor to refer you for an ‘endometriosis ultrasound’.


OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care

Condous performs Advanced Endosurgery procedures for women needing intervention for pelvic masses, adnexal pathology, severe endometriosis or hysterectomy. He also runs ‘Hands on’ Live Sheep Laparoscopic Workshops for gynaecologists at Camden Veterinarian School.
Having completed an undergraduate degree with the University of Adelaide, he left Australia in 1993 and moved to London where he completed his training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. From 2001 to 2003 Condous worked as a Senior Research Fellow at St George’s Hospital, London. At St George’s he set up the Acute Gynaecology Unit, the first in the United Kingdom. It was also during this time that he developed an interest in Early Pregnancy and especially the management of pregnancies of unknown location (PULs). Condous has developed many mathematical models for the prediction of outcome of PULs which have been featured in numerous peer review journals. In 2005, he returned to Australia where he completed his Laparoscopic Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Reproductive Endosurgery, Royal North Shore, Sydney.

Condous was appointed as a Consultant Gynaecologist and Senior Lecturer at Nepean Hospital in 2006 and soon was made Associate Professor. In 2010, he was made Departmental Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Nepean Hospital. He obtained the MRCOG in 1999 and was made FRANZCOG in 2005. In 2009, he was awarded his Doctorate in Medicine (MD), University of London, for his thesis entitled: “The management of pregnancies of unknown location and the development of new mathematical models to predict outcome”.

Condous has edited three books including the “Handbook of Early Pregnancy Care”, published over 100 papers in international journals and is internationally renowned for his work in Early Pregnancy. He is the Associate Editor for Gynaecologic Obstetric Investigation, which is a European based journal, as well as the Australasian Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (AJUM). He is on the organising committee and is an invited speaker at the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISUOG) Scientific meeting in Sydney 2013. His current research interests relate to the management of ectopic pregnancy, 1st trimester growth, PULs and miscarriage and the use of transvaginal ultrasound (in particular sonovaginography, to predict posterior compartment deep infiltrating rectovaginal endometriosis).Condous is also actively involved with post-graduate education including the annual running of the Early Pregnancy and Gynaecological Ultrasound Interactive Courses for Sonologists, Radiologists, Sonographers and Gynaecologists in Australia.