Endometriosis facts to help you on your journey
In recognition of March as Endometriosis Awareness Month, here are some fast facts and frequently asked questions and answers about this disease of the female reproductive system. Learn more about this disease with these endometriosis facts and frequently asked questions.
- Endometriosis affects women during childbearing age (from her first period until menopause)
- Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women worldwide
- Common symptoms include painful and/or long periods, heavy bleeding, bowel and urinary disorders, nausea and/or vomiting, pain during sexual activities, infertility and chronic fatigue
- Symptoms typically begin during puberty
- There is an average of a 10-year delay in diagnosing endometriosis
- Endometriosis is one of the leading causes of female infertility
Endometriosis Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the cause of endometriosis?
The full picture of the causes of endometriosis is still unknown. Research is still ongoing to determine the exact cause of endometriosis, but some studies suggest environmental toxins such as dioxin and PCBs, which act like hormones in the body and damage the immune system, can cause endometriosis. Dioxins are highly toxic chemicals which come from the production and use of pesticides and herbicides; municipal, medical, and hazardous waste incineration; chemical and plastics manufacturing; and pulp and paper production. Dioxins readily concentrate in the food chain, contaminating animals and fish; thus food is the primary source of dioxin exposure for humans.
Can endometriosis be inherited?
A genetic theory suggests that certain families have predisposing factors for the disease. With one first-degree family member affected (mother, sister, daughter), a person has an increased risk of having endometriosis, some research suggests. However, more research is necessary to fully understand the genetic characteristics of endometriosis.
Will endometriosis affect a woman if she’s already had a baby?
A woman who has already had a baby can still have endometriosis. Pregnancy, and the increase in progesterone levels often relieve women of symptoms, but they typically return after birth and/or after stopping breastfeeding.
How/why does endometriosis cause infertility?
Researchers are still trying to understand the relationship between endometriosis and infertility, but approximately 30-40% of women with the disease are infertile. Many women are unaware of their infertility or endometriosis until they attempt to get pregnant. In some women, endometriosis goes untreated and the disease progression allows the endometrial lesions to block the fallopian tubes and inhibit ovulatory functioning. Some studies also suggest that endometriosis may alter the uterus such that it does not accept an embryo, however, this notion requires more research.
What kind of doctor should I see about this?
It is important to talk to a gynecologist about any symptoms related to your reproductive health. Do not be afraid to seek a second opinion if you do not receive the care you think you need.
How is endometriosis different from uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are similar in that they develop from the cells of the lining of the uterus, but they remain inside the uterus and are often asymptomatic.
How is endometriosis different from ovarian cysts?
Ovarian cysts are typically caused when the egg-releasing follicle in the ovary continues to grow and fills with fluid. They remain in or on the surface of the ovary, and are typically harmless.
If you get a hysterectomy, will the pain stop?
When the uterus is removed, the woman no longer has any chance of becoming pregnant. Therefore, we do not recommend a hysterectomy as a sound treatment option for endometriosis. Pain associated with endometriosis does not necessarily stop when a hysterectomy is completed as the ovaries continue to produce estrogen, facilitating disease progression. Additionally, lesions may still be found on other organs (perhaps unrelated to the reproductive system), which may cause symptom manifestation.
Can endometriosis be transmitted through sex?
No, endometriosis cannot be transmitted through sexual contact.
Is there a “cure” for endometriosis?
There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are many treatment options to greatly improve patients’ quality of life.
If you still have questions about endometriosis, contact our Louisiana fertility specialists to get answers.