Who Is At Risk For Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a problem that occurs in women of childbearing age (from menstruation to menopause). It can be painful, and sometimes causes problems during pregnancy.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when the endometrium, the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, also grows outside of the uterus. The endometrium, during your menstrual cycle, 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 cannot leave the body. This usually occurs on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or tissue lining the pelvis. Very rarely does this 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 cause fertility problems.
Who is at Risk for Endometriosis?
There are a number of factors that increase your risk of getting endometriosis. These factors include:
- Being of childbearing age, or between menstruation and menopause. Girls nearing puberty are also at risk.
- Family history of endometriosis in a first degree relative (mother or sister).
- 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, which 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.
Endometriosis can affect women of any age or race, so long as they are menstruating. Occasionally a girl just before puberty can get endometriosis as well, though usually it occurs after a few years of menstruation. Symptoms of endometriosis will cease during pregnancy, but may continue when menstruation begins again after pregnancy.
What are Some Complications of Endometriosis?
Studies disagree on some complications of endometriosis. Some say women with endometriosis have a higher risk of having ovarian cancer after the age of sixty. Other studies say there is a chance of having cancerous tissue in the endometrial implants, the risk isn't any higher of having cancerous tissue elsewhere in the body. The most common complication of endometriosis is impaired fertility. Women with mild to moderate endometriosis may have a more difficult time becoming pregnant than women without. Studies have shown that twenty to forty percent of infertile women have endometriosis. Commonly, women with endometriosis develop a cyst on the ovary, called ovarian endometrioma. These cysts can vary in size from one millimeter to over ten centimeters. Large cysts are usually surgically removed, but may not cause any specific symptoms. Large cysts can be felt by your doctor.
Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/endometriosis/DS00289 http://women.webmd.com/endometriosis/endometriosis-topic-overview