Both endometriosis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. But, endometriosis results from an overgrowth of tissue in females, while IBS can affect males or females, and the cause is unclear.

Digestive issues are one of the main symptoms associated with the condition, which means managing the effects is an important part of treatment.

This article reviews the link between endometriosis and diarrhea, other endometriosis symptoms, related conditions, and more.

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Endometriosis affects about 11% of American females between the ages of 15 and 44. It occurs when similar cells to the ones that typically form the lining of the uterus grow outside of the uterus.

It can cause several symptoms and complications, including chronic pelvic pain, pain during sex, painful periods, and infertility.

One common symptom of endometriosis is gastric problems. These can include diarrhea, constipation, and bloating.

These symptoms often occur or worsen during the menstrual cycle, which may help a doctor rule out other gastric issues.

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Learn more about diarrhea and endometriosis.

Endometriosis can cause several digestive issues, including:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • bloating

Other symptoms

In addition to gastric issues, a person with endometriosis may experience:

Bowel endometriosis occurs when the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows on and affects the bowels. Between 3–37% of cases of endometriosis have bowel involvement.

Common symptoms of bowel endometriosis include:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • tenesmus, or the feeling of needing to pass stools despite the bowels being empty
  • dyschezia, or difficulty passing stools due to pain or straining

However, several cases of bowel endometriosis are asymptomatic. When they do occur, they can be similar to other conditions, which makes differential diagnosis an important aspect of care for a person.

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Learn more about bowel endometriosis.

Doctors can mistake endometriosis for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The two conditions can have very similar gastric symptoms, including diarrhea, painful bowel movements, bloating, and other GI discomforts.

Doctors must rule out endometriosis when examining for IBS. For those with endometriosis, gastric symptoms may present or worsen during their period. In these cases, endometriosis may be the cause.

If a person is concerned about IBS or endometriosis, they should consult a doctor. They can begin the process of diagnosing endometriosis or ruling out other conditions.

Aside from endometriosis, several other conditions can cause diarrhea. They include:

Endometriosis can present like IBS or other gastric conditions. This can lead to misdiagnosis or a delay in diagnosis.

To diagnose endometriosis, a doctor will likely:

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Learn more about diagnosing endometriosis.

Treatment and management of endometriosis and diarrhea can take both a medical and dietary approach.

Treating the underlying endometriosis may alleviate gastric symptoms such as diarrhea. A person can also use medication to manage diarrhea.


Several over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications may help manage diarrhea related to endometriosis.

If diarrhea is acute and lasts only a few days, such as during menstrual bleeding, a person may find OTC medications may help. Common examples include:

  • Ioperamide (Imodium)
  • bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate)

For long-term care, a doctor may recommend taking probiotics.

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Learn more about treatments for diarrhea.


There is no specific diet for endometriosis. However, some people have found that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoiding certain foods can help.

Foods and drinks a person may want to consider avoiding include:

Avoiding food and drinks that may irritate the digestive tract, such as alcohol, coffee, and hard-to-digest foods may also alleviate a person’s gastric symptoms.

A person may also want to consider limiting any other foods that cause their symptoms to worsen. This can be specific to the individual.

Keeping a food log that records a person’s diet and symptoms may help to deduce which foods are problematic.

Learn more about how to manage endometriosis through diet.


A person may want to consider getting surgery to remove the endometriosis tissue from the other organs.

Surgeons can perform a laparoscopic excision for this purpose. However, a person should be aware that it is difficult to remove endometriosis that infiltrates the bowels, rectum, and other organs.

Surgery for endometriosis treatment is not always successful, and a person may still find they have symptoms after surgery.

Learn more

Learn more about endometriosis surgery.

Endometriosis has no cure. However, with successful management of the condition, a person’s symptoms may reduce or disappear.

A person may find that lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes, can help reduce diarrhea and other gastric symptoms.

A person may not be able to prevent endometriosis from occurring, however, taking steps to reduce estrogen in the body can help.

This could include:

A person can help keep their symptoms, such as diarrhea, under control by managing their endometriosis. This often involves the use of hormones to help regulate the condition.

Avoiding certain foods may also help. This can include limiting dairy, processed foods, and red meat.

No single diet is known to help with endometriosis. A person may need to experiment to find the best solution.

Is it possible to prevent endometriosis from spreading?

It is not possible to stop the spread of endometriosis. However, taking steps to limit estrogen in the body may help.

A person should contact a doctor if they notice symptoms that could suggest endometriosis. These can include:

  • abdominal pain
  • gastric issues, such as diarrhea, that may get worse during menstrual bleeding
  • bleeding or spotting between periods
  • difficulty getting pregnant

People younger than 35 years should contact a doctor about infertility after 1 year of trying to conceive.

People over the age of 35 should contact a doctor about infertility after 6 months of trying to conceive.

The following sections provide answers to frequently asked questions about endometriosis and diarrhea.

Why do I get diarrhea during ovulation?

Hormonal changes around ovulation can cause digestive issues. This can include diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and vomiting.

Diarrhea during ovulation could be due to endometriosis. In those with endometriosis, gastric symptoms often occur at different points in the menstrual cycle due to a change in hormone levels.

Why do I get diarrhea during periods?

A person may experience a range of symptoms related to their period, such as cramps, nausea, headaches, and diarrhea.

This is usually nothing to worry about and can be a part of a person’s typical menstrual cycle. Diarrhea during periods can happen due to increased prostaglandins in the body, which help with muscle contractions and blood vessel dilation.

However, having diarrhea during periods may also be a sign of endometriosis. People with endometriosis may notice gastric symptoms occurring at different points in the menstrual cycle, such as during menstrual bleeding.

If a person notices other symptoms of endometriosis, such as painful menstrual cramps, pain during sex, and difficulty getting pregnant, they should speak with a doctor.

Why does endometriosis give you diarrhea?

Endometriosis often causes digestive issues, but it is not exactly clear why.

However, experts do know that endometriosis lesions can grow on the bowels and put pressure on them. This can trigger gastric issues.

Endometriosis can cause diarrhea and other gastric issues, though the exact mechanism is unknown. Some experts believe that lesions on or near the bowels can lead to these issues.

Treatment often involves helping to prevent symptoms from occurring. They can vary, but they involve hormonal therapy, surgery, and lifestyle and dietary changes.

With treatment, a person can often control their symptoms, though working with a doctor can help improve success.