Tracking Your Symptoms Might Lead to a Faster Diagnosis of Uterine Conditions

Use our symptom overlap guide to help make your medical appointment more effective

Medically reviewed by Brit Geisler, M.D., MPH, FACOG

For some uterine conditions, like endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), it can take years to get a diagnosis. Many symptoms of uterine conditions overlap, which is part of the reason people assigned female at birth can get misdiagnosed several times or have to see many specialists before finally receiving the correct diagnosis.

Read: Q&A: A Healthcare Provider’s Perspective on Diagnosing Uterine Conditions >>

Keeping track of your symptoms and sharing open and honest details with your provider can help make your appointments more effective. Check out our symptom overlap guide below and hover over some of the categories to find out what information your provider might need from you during your appointment. It’s a good idea to write down any symptoms you have — even if they aren’t in this guide — how long you’ve had them and whether they affect your daily life in any way, such as causing you to skip your exercise routine or miss work days.

Abnormal hair growth: Also called hirsutism, when thick and/or dark hair grows on your neck, chest, stomach, low back, butt or thighs, this can be a sign of a hormonal imbalance.

Abnormal vaginal discharge: It is normal to have vaginal discharge that can vary during your cycle. Keep track if your vaginal discharge changes in color, texture, smell or frequency.

Acne: While many things can cause acne like stress, diet or pregnancy, persistent acne — especially when you have other symptoms — can help your provider identify whether you have a uterine condition.

Back or leg pain: If you have unexplained sharp, stabbing or throbbing pain in your legs or lower back, take note of when it happens – especially if you feel it around or during your period, how often it happens, and whether anything helps alleviate the pain.

Bloating: Bloating, the feeling of tightness or fullness in your stomach, can be caused by many things like certain foods or medications. You should tell your provider about any bloating that happens frequently or doesn’t go away and makes it hard to eat or take a full breath.

Difficulty getting pregnant: If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for 12 months or more, or 6 months if you’re over 35 years old, there may be a medical reason why you’re having difficulty. Tell your provider how long you’ve been trying and whether you’ve used any ovulation tracking methods.

Heavy bleeding: If you have to change your period products every two hours or less, need double protection, bleed for more than 5 days during your period or pass blood clots the size of a quarter or larger, you have heavy bleeding.

Incontinence or leaking pee: Accidentally leaking pee when you laugh, sneeze, exercise or can’t make it to the bathroom in time can be common, but it’s treatable. Even if incontinence isn’t a sign of a health condition, your provider can recommend treatments like pelvic floor therapy to help.

Irregular periods or bleeding or spotting in between periods: Keeping a period calendar can help you remember how long your periods last, how often you get your period and whether you bleed in between your periods.

Pain during sex: Although pain during sex can be common, it’s a sign that something isn’t right. The pain can be at any time during sex as well as positional. Tell your medical provider if you have any pain during sex and whether anything makes the pain go away.

Pain when pooping: Pain, especially sharp and/or severe pain, when pooping is a signal that something is wrong. Keep track of any changes in your bowel movements like pooping less or more often, softer or firmer poop, or having to strain when trying to poop.

Pelvic pain: Many conditions cause pelvic pain, including gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Be as specific as you can about when and where your pain is and what activities make the pain better or worse.

Strong and/or foul smell from vaginal discharge: Healthy vaginal discharge should not have a strong odor, so any strong smell is important to note.

Urgent feeling of having to pee: Tell your provider if you’re feeling like you have to pee more frequently than usual or are feeling like you have  pee right away even if only a little comes out.

Weight gain: Some conditions like PCOS can make you gain weight easier than others. If you have other symptoms in addition to difficulty with weight gain, tell your provider.

This educational resource was created with support from Sumitomo Pharma.


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