Each month, tissue in our uterus (called endometrial) builds up and is shed during our period. Endometriosis is a condition when this tissue grows outside the uterus on other organs, like ovaries, fallopian tubes or the bladder. While endometriosis is much less common than UTIs, it affects approximately11% of American women between ages 15 and 44. It is especially common among women in their 30s and 40s.
Bladder endometriosis is a specific form of endometriosis that occurs when endometrial tissue grows on or in your bladder.Because the symptoms of bladder endometriosis are so similar to UTI symptoms, the two issues are often confused. The only way to absolutely know if you have endometriosis is to be examined by a doctor.
If you have bladder endometriosis, you'll often experience one or several of these symptoms:
If endometriosis is in other parts of your pelvis, you may also experience:
You may be wondering if endometriosis and UTIs are related. For example, if you get lots of recurring UTIs, is it a sign that you have endometriosis of the bladder? Or does having endometriosis makes it more common to get UTIs?
While the answers will change case to case, person to person, usually the answer to the first question is no—a propensity to frequent UTIs does not mean you'll be more likely to have endometriosis. Endometriosis of the bladder is rare and urinary tract infections are quite common. Recurring UTIs can be caused by numerous things like sexual activity or not changing out if your sweaty gym clothes fast enough, and while the two seem linked because of the shared symptoms between UTIs and endometriosis, there isn't a clear cause-and-effect relationship.
Endometriosis might make you more likely to struggle with UTIs, though, since endometriosis makes your bladder lining roughened and more attractive to bacteria. If you have endometriosis and are struggling with recurring UTIs, be sure to stay close to your doctor throughout the process since there's a higher correlation between antibiotic resistance UTI-causing bacteria and endometriosis.
Because endometriosis can share so many symptoms with other issues (like UTIs), it can be difficult for doctor's to diagnosis, but there are some good online resources. Think you might have endometriosis? Check out MyEndometriosisTeam— an online community dedicated exclusively to diagnosing, treating and understanding endometriosis.