While being diagnosed with endometriosis is scary, many people are able to function fully in life with little setbacks with the condition. Endometriosis leading to death is not likely. Even with severe symptoms, there are plenty of treatment options available.
Can endometriosis kill you?
No, endometriosis alone will not kill you. There are rare chances that endometriosis can lead to complications that may be life-threatening, though.
What are these complications?
One dangerous condition is a small bowel obstruction (SBO). If the endometrium tissue scarred severely enough, it could lead to an intestinal blockage. Untreated blockages could lead to a bowel perforation (aka, hole) or decreased blood supply to intestines. Both scenarios are potentially fatal.
- stomach pain,
- nausea, and
- problems passing gas and/or stool.
Another rare but life-threatening complication is an ectopic pregnancy. Some studies have found that cisgender women with endometriosis are more likely to experience an ectopic pregnancy. This type of pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the Fallopian tube. This pregnancy may lead to the Fallopian tube rupturing and causing internal bleeding.
- vaginal bleeding,
- mild cramping on one side of the pelvis, and
- low back pain.
SBO and ectopic pregnancy rarely result from endometriosis but can be extremely dangerous if left untreated. Therefore, a person with endometriosis should follow up with their doctor after having any symptoms of SBO or ectopic pregnancy.
How serious is stage 4 endometriosis?
At stage 4 endometriosis, a woman will have a large amount of endometrium, possibly large cysts in the ovaries. Scar tissue between the uterus and the rectum (lower part of the intestines) and around the ovaries or Fallopian tube will usually be present as well.
Stage 4 endometriosis may be serious and stressful for women seeking to get pregnant. If struggling with infertility, surgery could be recommended to remove scar tissue or large cysts. If a woman is unable to conceive post-surgery, in-vitro fertilization may be discussed. Even with in-vitro, though, pregnancy is not guaranteed. Pregnancy rates range from 50% or higher for women in their 20s to approximately 10% for women in their 40s.
For others, stage 4 endometriosis can range from completely asymptomatic (without symptoms) to extremely painful.
Overall, seriousness is usually based on the severity of the symptoms. Even at this stage, though, multiple treatment options are available. It is important to work with a medical provider to find the most effective method for the affected individual.
Does endometriosis get worse over time?
There is a possibility that endometriosis will worsen overtime, although that is not guaranteed. That being said, an early diagnosis and treatment are key, as treatment plans can halt or decline progression of the condition.