Is Endometriosis Hereditary?
Endometriosis is a problem of the endometrium, a tissue that usually lines the uterus and is flushed from the body during the menstrual cycle. The short answer to the above question is yes, endometriosis is much more likely to occur if you have a family history in a first degree relative such as your mother or sister.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when the endometrium, tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside of the uterus. During the menstrual cycle, the endometrium thickens to get ready for the egg. If the egg is fertilized, it will attach to the endometrium and begin to grow. If the egg is not fertilized, the endometrium breaks down and is flushed from your body as blood (your period). If you have endometriosis when this happens, the tissue outside the uterus, called implants, breaks down, but it cannot exit the body. This usually occurs on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or tissue lining the pelvis, but does rarely happen in other parts of the body. The trapped blood can lead to the growth of cysts, which in turn may form scar tissue or adhesions, causing pain, especially during your period. The scars and adhesions may also cause fertility problems.
What are the Environmental Risk Factors of Endometriosis?
Apart from family history, there are other circumstances that may increase your likelihood of having endometriosis, including:
- Being of childbearing age, or between menstruation and menopause. Girls nearing puberty are also at risk.
- Shortened menstrual cycles of less than twenty eight days.
- Menstrual flow of longer than seven days.
- Less than two full-term pregnancies or never being pregnant.
- Having an abnormal structure of the uterus, cervix, or vagina that interrupts menstrual flow.
- Having a medical problem that obstructs normal passage of menstrual flow.
- Damage to the uterus lining from a previous infection may lead to endometriosis.
What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?
Symptoms often include the following:
- Pain: Including severe cramps, back ache, rectal pain, pain during sex, and pain during bowel movements.
- Bleeding: Including bleeding after sex, premenstrual spotting (bleeding before the period), and blood in the urine or stool.
- Infertility: Often this is how women find out they have endometriosis. Twenty to forty percent of infertile women have endometriosis.