What It Is, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Endo belly is when the abdomen becomes severely bloated and painful. It happens in people with endometriosis, a condition that causes pelvic pain and heavy menstrual periods.

Treatments are available to lessen the symptoms, and people can also use home remedies to relieve pain and discomfort.

This article explains what endo belly is and how to get relief from the symptoms.

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Endo belly is a complication of endometriosis, a condition that occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (endometrium) starts to grow in areas outside of the uterus. Endometriosis affects more than 11% of women ages 15–44 years and is most common among those in their 30s and 40s.

Endo belly refers to severe bloating in the abdomen that accompanies pain similar to the pain of labor. The abdomen becomes painfully distended — so much so that clothes no longer fit, and the body shape may suggest pregnancy. Sometimes, diarrhea or constipation can occur alongside abdominal bloating.

Endo belly occurs due to the growths that occur outside of the uterus. Although these growths are not cancerous, they still cause swelling and pain. If the growths occur on the intestines, they can cause stomach and digestive problems. There is no way to prevent endo belly if you have endometriosis, but it is possible to manage the condition with medications and at-home care.

What does endo belly feel like?

The most common complaint with endo belly is severe abdominal bloating. Bloating happens when the abdomen fills with air or gas. An older study showed that 96% of women with endometriosis experienced abdominal bloating compared with just 64% of women who did not have the condition.

Other symptoms of endo belly include:

  • intestinal pain
  • naughty
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • painful menstrual cramps
  • painful bowel movements

Endo belly occurs when endometrial-like tissue builds up and causes inflammation in the abdomen. If this tissue covers or blocks the ovaries or fallopian tubes, cysts can form due to trapped blood in the ovaries.

Scar tissue and adhesions can also form, causing the internal organs to bind together, which can cause pain.

Bacterial overgrowth on the small intestines and fibroids can occur, causing issues with digestion, such as constipation or gas.

You should consult a doctor about endo belly if you are in severe pain or if the bloating is so bad that your clothes no longer fit.

The doctor may prescribe pain medication or recommend other treatments to treat endo belly symptoms.

It is also best to seek medical advice if you have severe nausea, constipation, diarrhea, or pain with bowel movements.

How do doctors diagnose the cause of endo belly?

Doctors diagnose endo belly by looking at your overall symptoms and health history. The cause of endometriosis is still unknown, but experts believe that it results from problems with:

  • menstrual period flow
  • genetic factors
  • immune system problems
  • hormonal imbalances

The doctor will assess your abdomen and listen for the presence of bowel sounds with a stethoscope. They will be able to hear whether your gastrointestinal system is too active or not active enough. They will also tap on your belly to listen for the areas where there is excessive gas or air.

What are the treatments for endo belly?

Doctors usually treat endo belly and endometriosis with hormonal birth control. This can be in the form of a pill, shot, or intrauterine device (IUD).

If you are trying to get pregnant, your doctor may prescribe you a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist. This medication stops the body from making the hormones responsible for the growths associated with endometriosis.

In severe cases in which hormonal birth control is not controlling the symptoms of endo belly, doctors may suggest surgical treatment. During the procedure, the surgeon will be able to locate and remove areas of endometrial-like tissue. After surgery, you will start again on hormonal birth control unless you are trying to get pregnant.

For pain management, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Some people also have success with complementary and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbs, and supplements.

What can I do at home for my endo belly?

There are many at-home remedies you can do to help with the symptoms of endo belly. These include:

  • Heat: Using a hot water bottle on your bloated stomach can help the muscle tissue relax and soothe cramps. By stimulating sensory receptors, heat can block pain signals to the brain.
  • Dietary changes: Follow a no “CRAP” diet, which is one without caffeine, refined sugars, alcohol, or processed foods. Some people have also found that following a gluten-free diet helps reduce the inflammation associated with endo belly.
  • Yoga: Yoga can help open up your pelvic floor and increase flexibility and circulation in this area, leading to pain relief. This can help balance hormones and relieve bloating.
  • Meditation: Meditation can help relieve overall anxiety and relax your pelvic floor. Working on your breathing can release tension and help you manage stress levels.
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy: This involves internal and external manual therapy to help calm the nervous system, normalize the muscle tone of the pelvic floor, and restore mobility and strength throughout the pelvic floor and core muscles.

What are the potential complications of endo belly?

The complications of endo belly include digestive problems such as severe nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. If you are unable to keep food or fluids down due to these symptoms, you should notify a doctor.

Painful bowel movements can also occur at certain points during the menstrual cycle. This may be due to adhesions that form on the intestines.

Another complication of endo belly is chronic pelvic pain. You may experience severe pain with each menstrual cycle, along with heavy bleeding. If you experience chronic pain from endo belly or endometriosis, seeing a pain management doctor who specializes in seeing individuals with this condition may help.

Frequently asked questions

Below are the answers to some common questions about endo belly.

How long do endo belly episodes last?

Endo belly can last for a few hours, days, or even weeks, depending on the severity of the symptoms. You should notify a doctor if endo belly symptoms last more than a few days.

Does endo belly after hysterectomy occur?

Generally, endo belly symptoms subside after a hysterectomy. As your body stops making estrogen, the endometriosis growths start to shrink. However, some people may still experience endo belly if they are receiving hormonal estrogen replacement therapy.

How do I get rid of endo belly?

You can treat endo belly by talking with a doctor about hormonal birth control, which is usually the first-line treatment for people with endometriosis. You can also try at-home remedies such as heat, dietary changes, yoga and meditation, acupuncture, herbs, and supplements.

Endo belly is a symptom of endometriosis in which the abdomen becomes severely bloated and distended. It occurs due to endometrial growths that occur in the pelvis and intestines. Endo belly is painful and can last for a few hours, days, or, in severe cases, weeks.

The first line of treatment is usually hormonal birth control pills, which help control the growths. In severe cases, doctors may recommend surgery to remove the growths.

You can help manage endo belly by making dietary changes, using heat on your abdomen, and trying complementary and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, herbs, and supplements.

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