Chronic Pelvic Pain: More Than Endometriosis Alone

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If you have chronic pelvic pain, endometriosis is likely- endometriosis is diagnosed in up to 80% of patients with chronic pelvic pain (Butrick, 2007). Endometriosis is bad enough, but it is frequently accompanied by other conditions that can cause chronic pelvic pain and other symptoms similar to endometriosis. For instance:

  • Adenomyosis: Adenomyosis and endometriosis have been found together anywhere from 21.8% to 79% of the time (Antero et al., 2017; Di Donato et al., 2014; Kunz et al., 2005).
  • Interstitial cystitis (IC): The so-called “evil twin” of endometriosis occurs in anywhere between 33-65% of people with endometriosis (Butrick, 2007; Chung et al., 2005). One article stated that “if [endometriosis] symptoms recur within the first 12 months after surgical therapy, IC should be considered as a possible cause” or “when therapy for the symptoms of endometriosis is unsuccessful, increasing evidence suggests that IC may be an underlying cause” (Butrick, 2007).
  • Endometrial/uterine polyps: Uterine polyps have been found in 48% of people with endometriosis (Zhang et al., 2018; Zheng et al., 2015). And if you have uterine polyps, you are also more likely to have adenomyosis as well (Indraccolo & Barbieri, 2011).
  • Fibroids (Leiomyomas): Both endometriosis and fibroids have been found together in 12-26% of patients, although one small study found both in 86% of the patients studied (Huang et al., 2010; Nezhat et al., 2016; Uimara et al., 2011).

These can also lead to other problems such as pelvic floor dysfunction. Other conditions not necessarily associated with endometriosis can also cause chronic pelvic pain. These might include pelvic congestion syndrome, pudendal neuralgia, or occult hernias. This is why it is so important to identify other pain/symptom generators and treat those as well. If it all gets blamed on endometriosis, you may miss a key to finding relief.

References

Antero, M. F., O’Sullivan, D., Mandavilli, S., & Mullins, J. (2017). High prevalence of endometriosis in patients with histologically proven adenomyosis. Fertility and Sterility107(3), e46. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2017.02.088

Butrick, C. W. (2007). Patients with chronic pelvic pain: endometriosis or interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome?. JSLS: Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons11(2), 182. Retrieved from https://europepmc.org/article/med/17761077

Chung, M. K., Chung, R. P., & Gordon, D. (2005). Interstitial cystitis and endometriosis in patients with chronic pelvic pain: the “evil twins” syndrome. JSLS: Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons9(1), 25. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3015562/

Di Donato, N., Montanari, G., Benfenati, A., Leonardi, D., Bertoldo, V., Monti, G., … & Seracchioli, R. (2014). Prevalence of adenomyosis in women undergoing surgery for endometriosis. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology181, 289-293. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2014.08.016

Huang, J. Q., Lathi, R. B., Lemyre, M., Rodriguez, H. E., Nezhat, C. H., & Nezhat, C. (2010). Coexistence of endometriosis in women with symptomatic leiomyomas. Fertility and sterility94(2), 720-723. Retrieved from https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(09)00620-7/pdf

Indraccolo, U., & Barbieri, F. (2011). Relationship between adenomyosis and uterine polyps. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology157(2), 185-189. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21470766/

Kunz, G., Beil, D., Huppert, P., Noe, M., Kissler, S., & Leyendecker, G. (2005). Adenomyosis in endometriosis—prevalence and impact on fertility. Evidence from magnetic resonance imaging. Human reproduction20(8), 2309-2316. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dei021

Nezhat, C., Li, A., Abed, S., Balassiano, E., Soliemannjad, R., Nezhat, A., … & Nezhat, F. (2016). Strong association between endometriosis and symptomatic leiomyomas. JSLS: Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons20(3). doi: 10.4293/JSLS.2016.00053

Uimari, O., Järvelä, I., & Ryynänen, M. (2011). Do symptomatic endometriosis and uterine fibroids appear together?. Journal of human reproductive sciences4(1), 34. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136067/

Zhang, Y. N., Zhang, Y. S., Yu, Q., Guo, Z. Z., Ma, J. L., & Yan, L. (2018). Higher prevalence of endometrial polyps in infertile patients with endometriosis. Gynecologic and obstetric investigation83(6), 558-563. DOI:10.1159/000487946

Zheng, Q. M., Mao, H. L., Zhao, Y. J., Zhao, J., Wei, X., & Liu, P. S. (2015). Risk of endometrial polyps in women with endometriosis: a meta-analysis. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology13(1), 1-9. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1186/s12958-015-0092-2