I apologise in advance for the long-winded post, but I am wondering if anyone has had a similar experience.
I am a 24 year old female, vegetarian (mostly vegan) diet. Since around the age of 13 or 14, my BM's changed significantly--as I started to 'need to go' around 7-9 times a day on average, on a good day, 5 at most. Stools are never 'normal'; either diarrhoea or what is 'almost' that. This carried on until I was 19 or 20, when I started to take notice of mucus in my stool, with three very bad instances of -a lot- of blood passing during a diarrhoea attack. At this time, my mother was diagnosed with very severe Colitis, so this prompted her to push me to get a colonoscopy. Results were normal; they found two polyps, and a few internal haemorrhoids, which were benign, and the doctor removed them. Suggested it was "maybe IBS". He suggested I do an elimination diet because I likely had sensitivities to milk and gluten. So, I have been vegetarian, gluten free, and dairy free for the past four years.
At first, the improved diet seemed to help with my symptoms, I think I probably have to use the bathroom less infrequently now-- around 4-5 times a day, still sometimes 7 when I am having an 'attack'.
The bloating I am experiencing has become really awful; even after I eat only a small amount. The stomach cramping is constant throughout the month but even worse during my period -- worse before I have a BM, and also horrible during the time in which I am having a BM-- it is almost like my stomach and colon are being squeezed so hard that they feel like they will burst. In the past year or so, this has become worse: stomach pains, stabbing pains all and cramps all over my abdomen and pelvic region, radiating into my back (sometimes so painful that I have been on my way out the door for the hospital, but they reside after around 20 minutes). I also have bouts of nausea throughout the day, dizzy spells, extreme joint pain and fatigue.
Now, here is where the frustration comes in: I have also been having sharp pains shooting into my abdomen during sex, and my periods have become increasingly more heavy, longer, with more clotting, etc. I was referred to a gynae; he brought up endometriosis, and how the bowel was likely involved. I thought "thank you, someone can finally affirm that I am not crazy, and I can have a proper diagnosis." However, after a laparoscopy last month, the surgeon came out and told me that she didn't find any endometriosis, and said "maybe it's the bowels.''
Now, I am back again, feeling absolutely exhausted searching for answers, and feeling ignored by my GP and other doctor's. I am not making this pain up; I am in agony almost every day; and the joint pain and fatigue has become increasingly worse, causing me to take a lot of time off of work. I have asked my GP at least 6 times for a referral to a gastroenterologist, but they have said "let's do some stool and blood samples before we consider that"-- these have all come back normal (although my WBC was low two months ago).
Now, I am here to ask if anyone has had a similar problem, and what they have done to find a diagnosis. I know that IBS is debilitating at times, but I feel very strongly that it is not just this, as I feel like my whole stomach and lower abdomen/colon/pelvis are all affected, every day. Is it possible that the colonoscopy I did a few years ago would have not detected IBD? Is it possible that something can be diagnosed as IBS at first, but can gradually become IBD? How can I make my GP take me seriously? If it is IBD, could that be causing the pains I have during intercourse?
Thank you for taking the time to read-- any advice would be very helpful.