Endo Belly: What is it?

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and this year, I want to talk even more openly about my story and my life with the condition.

In case you are new here or are completed unaware I had Endometriosis and PCOS, you can catch up on my blog post from last year here.
(just a note: I had two more operations since then!!!) 

What exactly is Endo Belly?

Endo belly is a term used to describe the uncomfortable, often very painful, swelling and bloating that’s associated with Endometriosis.

Endometriosis is where the tissue that is found in the lining inside the uterus is found OUTSIDE the uterus and other areas of the body, where it doesn’t belong. Even though it is located in places outside of the uterus, it still acts the same way it would if it was inside the uterus, meaning it breaks down and bleeds. However, because the tissue doesn’t have a way to leave your body like it would if it was in the uterus, it is trapped and therefore it becomes inflamed and irritated and can cause scar tissue to form.

Bloating and fluid retention are a very common Endometriosis symptoms and this is where the term “Endo Belly” comes from.

What causes Endo belly?

There is many things that cause it but here are a few of the main things:

  • A buildup of tissue can cause inflammation in the abdomen and can result in severe swelling, water retention, and bloating. In my case, I often look like I am in my second trimester of pregnancy when I get Endo belly
  • The tissue can cover or grow into the ovaries and when this happens, trapped blood can form cysts, which may cause bloating. This has been the reason why I had to have two of my Laparoscopies.
  • Endometriosis can cause issues with digestion, such as constipation and gas. In my last operation, they discovered that my bowel was attaching to my ovary because of the Endometriosis, which explained why I was swollen and in so much pain.

What are the symptoms of Endo belly?

The main one is severe bloating or swelling, to the point you look pregnant. Other symptoms are:

  • gas pain
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • diarrhea

What I do to treat my Endo belly?

Well, as of right now, there isn’t much I can do. My hot water bottle and painkillers are my best friend when I am having a flare up.

I do try have a gluten free diet 90% of the time, but it is hard to keep to this. I was informed recently that I should try a plant based diet 1-2 days a week which I will try to see if it helps reduce the frequency of my Endo belly.

As you can see from the photo at the top, I often look pregnant! There have been MANY occasions I have people mistake my Endo belly for a baby bump and it’s so embarrassing. I have never corrected any one because it just takes too long to explain what is actually wrong with me. Several times, men have given me their seats on the bus. Recently, a woman on the bus got all excited over my ‘adorable baby bump’ and wanted to know how far gone I was. I’m currently working from home and got groceries delivered last week and the man congratulated me and asked was I on my maternity leave soon. HOW EMBARRASSING!!!!

It’s very disheartening having Endo belly and people misjudging you for being pregnant as one of the main things with Endometriosis is infertility and having children might never happen for me.

Sarah Jane xx