Endometriosis is a chronic condition. It occurs when tissue similar to what grows and sheds from your uterus each month during your menstrual cycle begin to grow in other areas of your body. The tissue can become inflamed and bleed, irritating the organs and tissues around them.
Endometriosis can cause a number of symptoms, including bleeding between periods, back pain, and pelvic pain. The condition may affect more than
The causes of endometriosis vary and are poorly understood. Doctors still don’t know everything that can trigger this condition. Causes are a combination of factors including genetics and immune dysfunction.
Endometriosis has not yet been classified as an autoimmune condition but it may increase risk for autoimmune conditions. The
Our immune system protects our body from invaders, but immune systems can get out of balance. If you have an autoimmune disease, your body attacks itself, as if it were a foreign invader. Inflammation can be a part of this autoimmune response.
Having endometriosis may increase your risk for other health conditions. Some of these conditions, called comorbidities, are autoimmune conditions.
Researchers are searching for the root cause of endometriosis. It’s thought that people who have endometriosis may have abnormal immune system responses. This could either stem from endometriosis, or the condition itself may be a result of this factor. There are likely many things related to triggering this condition.
A few reviews of studies, including one from
But the studies reviewed were generally found to be smaller, of poorer quality, or lacking in sufficient variables, and larger cohort studies are needed for a better understanding.
In particular, more research related to the
There are other comorbidities that come with endometriosis. A
Endometriosis is a common condition. So it’s unclear whether the conditions listed are connected, or if there is simply an overlap in who’s being diagnosed with them.
Some of the most documented comorbidities for endometriosis are connected to mental health. Anxiety and depression are
Living with chronic pain and other uncomfortable symptoms can impact the way you feel about your body. Your level of pain, how you feel about your condition, and hormonal treatment methods can all factor in to this connection.
Speak with your doctor about how you’re feeling and about symptoms of anxiety or depression. There are ways they can help, both with your endometriosis symptoms and with your emotional well-being.
Endometriosis may increase your risk for certain types of cancer. It has been associated with higher risks for two types of ovarian cancer —
If you’re concerned about risk, talk with your doctor. They can assess your other risk factors, such as family history, and work with you to develop a preventive screening plan.
The risk for the average woman developing ovarian cancer is relatively low, but it’s influenced by certain risk factors. Having endometriosis increases your chances of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Endometriosis lesions are benign, but they have been seen to have cancer-associated mutations. This doesn’t mean they’ll become cancerous, but rather that more research is needed to determine the association.
According to the National Cancer Institute,
However, you should still be mindful of breast cancer risks. Be cautious about breast cancer and take necessary precautions to make sure that if you do develop it, you catch it early. Ask your doctor for specific testing you might need.
Out of 12
Brain cancer, kidney cancer, endocrine cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Some studies see a strong link between these cancers and endometriosis. But others claim the evidence is weak or coincidental. More research is needed to understand if there’s a strong link between endometriosis and other kinds of cancer.
Researchers think this could be because of their immune responses to certain irritants. Those with allergies to penicillin, certain prescription medications, and allergic rhinitis
Oxidative stress is related to both endometriosis and cardiovascular disease. This could mean that endometriosis and cardiovascular conditions are linked.
A large 2016 study found that endometriosis was associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease. It was noted that an increase in surgeries like hysterectomy or oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) for those living with endometriosis could partially explain the association.
Endometriosis is a chronic condition that can affect your long-term health. If you have endometriosis, understanding associated conditions is an important part of living with your condition.
Researchers are continuing to uncover the causes of endometriosis and how those causes might connect with other conditions. Many of these conditions are manageable and researchers are working on new treatments every day.
If you’re concerned about your risk, talk with your doctor. They can assess your individual risk factors and help you develop a plan for screening and prevention.