Background: Endometriosis commonly presents with a range of symptoms none of which are particularly specific for the condition, often resulting in misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis.
Aim: To investigate gastrointestinal symptoms in women with endometriosis and compare their frequency with that of the classical gynaecological symptoms.
Methods: Systematic exploration of symptoms in a consecutive series of 355 women undergoing operative laparoscopy for suspected endometriosis.
Results: Endometriosis was confirmed by histology in 290 women (84.5%). Bowel lesions were present in only 7.6%. Ninety per cent of women had gastrointestinal symptoms, of which bloating was the most common (82.8%), but 71.3% also had other bowel symptoms. All gastrointestinal symptoms were similarly predictive of histologically confirmed endometriosis. Seventy-six women (21.4%) had previously been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and 79% of them had endometriosis confirmed.
Conclusion: Gastrointestinal symptoms are nearly as common as gynaecological symptoms in women with endometriosis and do not necessarily reflect bowel involvement.