Women with endometriosis are at increased risk of also having irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory disease, according to findings from a large study conducted in the UK.
Dr. Karen D. Ballard, at the University of Surrey in Guildford, and colleagues identified 5,540 women aged 15 to 55 years who were diagnosed with endometriosis. They matched these “case” patients to 21,239 control women without endometriosis.
They found that women with endometriosis were at significantly greater risk of having a diagnosis of pelvic inflammatory disease before and after the date on which endometriosis was diagnosed.
Similarly, a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome was more likely before and after a diagnosis of endometriosis than among controls.
“If there is coexisting pelvic inflammatory disease, then this needs rigorous treatment to reduce the risk of even greater subfertility,” the researchers conclude in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Endometriosis is a painful condition that affects women during their reproductive years and is caused by the growth of the tissue lining the uterus in other parts of the abdomen outside of the uterus, such as the ovaries.
“Appropriate management of irritable bowel syndrome may reduce endometriosis-related bowel symptoms,” the researchers say.
However, doctors “may not recognize that women with endometriosis get bowel symptoms,” Ballard told Reuters Health.
“We are currently working on further diagnostic markers for endometriosis,” she added. “Currently, endometriosis can only be diagnosed via surgery and we want to reduce the diagnostic delay by developing a way that GPs (general practitioners) can better identify the markers of endometriosis.”
SOURCE: BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, October 2008.