Endo Belly: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and More
Published December 14, 2021.
Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial tissue starts to grow outside the uterus, usually around the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or inside the abdominal cavity. Endometriosis is quite common, affecting around 1 in 10 women. It often goes undetected for years because there may be no symptoms, or the symptoms are mistaken for another condition.
What Is Endo Belly?
Endo belly is a term for abdominal distension (bloating) caused by endometriosis. Regular bloating is a feeling of tightness and slight cramping around your abdomen. Endo belly differs from regular bloat by often being very painful and firm to the touch, sometimes excruciatingly enough to interfere with your day-to-day activities.
As for how long endo belly lasts, the severe bloating may lessen after a few hours, but can also persist in a less severe form for days or weeks after your period.
Symptoms of Endo Belly
Endo Belly Causes
The endometrial-like tissue located outside the uterus in endometriosis sufferers behaves like the normal endometrial lining by building up, breaking down, and bleeding each month. However, because this tissue doesn’t have a way to leave the body, it gets trapped. This leads to several possible reasons for causing endo belly, such as:
- Inflammation build-up The build-up of endometrial tissue outside the uterus causes inflammation in the abdomen, resulting in bloating, swelling, and water retention.
- Cyst and fibroid progression The endometrial-like tissue may cover or grow into the ovaries, resulting in trapped blood and increasing the risk of cysts, fibroids, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which could all lead to bloating
- Gastrointestinal upset Endometriosis often causes issues with the digestive system, like constipation and gas.
Factors That Aggravate Symptoms of Endo Belly
- Food intolerances
- Antidepressant use
- Hormonal changes
- Red meat
- Diets high in trans-fats
- FODMAP foods (fruits, honey, dairy, wheat, onions, garlic, beans, lentils, soybeans, sugar alcohols, and fruits that have pits or seeds)
When Does Endo Belly Occur?
Endometriosis can either begin in early adolescence or show up later in adulthood. The symptoms of endo belly can occur all the time or can be cyclical, where the symptoms come and go around the same time as your menstrual cycle.
How Endo Belly Is Treated
If you're wondering what to do for endo belly, it is usually treated by managing endometriosis, the underlying condition. Currently, there is no cure for endometriosis, which means that endo belly is not likely to go away on its own. However, in most cases, the symptoms may improve with some endo belly remedies and other treatments for reducing menstrual pain.
Pain Management Treatments
Depending on the severity of pain you experience, your doctor may suggest an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory pain medication.
How to Help Endo Belly With Hormonal Treatments
Hormonal medications can help slow down the growth of the endometrial-like tissue and could stop adhesions and new scar tissue from forming.
Some options include:
- Birth control pills
- Progesterone hormones that come in the form of an injection, pill, or IUD may prevent the endometrial-like tissue from growing or stop periods altogether.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist medication can help stop the production of hormones, tissue growth, and menstruation.
- Androgens include medication that can stop the hormone production related to menstrual cycles and may lessen the frequency of your period.
How to Reduce Endo Belly With Surgical Treatments
Certain surgeries like laparoscopy and hysterectomy may alleviate or prevent endometriosis and endo belly pain.
Laparoscopy, or keyhole surgery, is a minimally invasive procedure that allows your surgeon to remove endometriosis patches.
A hysterectomy is a procedure where your surgeon will remove the uterus and possibly the ovaries to get rid of endometriosis.
However, there’s a very slight chance that symptoms of endometriosis and endo belly might persist after these operations, and so there isn't really a definitive answer as to whether endo belly does or does not go away after surgery.
Home Remedies to Reduce Endo Belly
You may experience an inflamed endo belly after eating, so consider foods that are suitable for an endo belly, like an anti-inflammatory and high-fiber diet. Additionally, you can try certain spices and herbs like ginger and mint for nausea and cinnamon, turmeric, and cloves for cramps and bloating.
An endo belly may also cause weight gain that could be alleviated by light exercise.
Should You See a Doctor for Endo Belly?
If you have painful, frequent abdominal bloating that lasts longer than a few days, be sure to see your doctor. They can diagnose if the underlying cause is endometriosis and prescribe the right treatment plan.