As you go through life, your body changes with you. Read to find out how significant life events can mean different things for bladder, bowel and pelvic health.


One in nine women are affected by endometriosis, where tissue from the uterus (womb) grows outside in areas such as the bowel and ovaries. Endometriosis symptoms usually start a few years after the first period, but on average it takes 6.5 years until it is diagnosed.

One of the most common signs of endometriosis is pelvic pain (pain anywhere between the belly button and pelvis) and this commonly starts just before a period. Pelvic pain and other signs of endometriosis such as fatigue, nausea and fertility issues can significantly impact quality of life.

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Where you are in your menstrual cycle can also affect your bowel movements – thought to be due to hormonal changes. Women with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have reported more symptoms before and during their period.

Also in this series: pregnancy and childbirth, and menopause.

This story was first published in Bridge Magazine. Subscribe and receive Bridge straight to your inbox.