Menopause & Endometriosis: What's The Correlation?
Back in the late 1970's and early 1980's the "Career Woman's Disease was said to be Endometriosis. It was called that because most if not all women affected by the disease were women in their 30's that had never had children. Today, in the 20th Century, we now know so much more. Endometriosis is now considered to be an immune-system disease and hormonal disease that can not only affect women in their 30's but can and does affect them before teenage years and up to and beyond their 60's.
What is Endometriosis
Structural material that lines the uterus is found on the outer surface of the uterus. It is found in various parts of the body like the ovaries, the bladder, the rectum and the digestive organs. Monthly during the menstrual cycle, this tissue builds up causing tumors or implants that can lead to pain. It makes sense that women who suffer with endo would look forward to menopause, thinking that they would finally be free of the pain. Some women do find a reprieve from the pain, however new reports show that symptoms may also reappear after the menstrual cycle has ceased. There are females that have been told they have endo for the first time during menopause and beyond.
The questions are being asked:
- Will the symptoms of endo end with menopause?
- Would it be best for you to take hormone replacement therapy? If you do will the endo reappear?
There is no easy answer to the above questions. There really aren't any guides to help the Baby boomer's who are knowledgeable and who are now just beginning to enter menopause. It may not play a critical role for many women as they become post menopausal but there are also many women who will have other health related needs and experience different health issues. The suffering from endometriosis may disappear and fertility may not be a concern any longer, but there are other circumstances that you may face that are related to immune system dysfunction. Some on which are; allergies, autoimmune disease and cancers.
Even after menopause the endometriosis implants may exist but there may not be any more symptoms. However, there are only a few studies that have been done about the recurrence of endo tumors in menopause (or about the likelihood of new endometriosis tumors). Research shows that the tumors (lesions) of endo need estrogen for growth. It seems plausible then that since the ovaries produce less estrogen that these lesions would no longer be stimulated after menstruation stops. We know that estrogen is still being produced but in smaller amounts. Doctors really don't know how important this might be for women whose endometriosis growth and symptoms continue. They also don't know what part it would play in the immune system, introduction to environmental toxins, diet, lifestyle choices, weight, as well as other things. What they do know is that endometriosis symptoms in natural menopause are evident in two to five percent of post menopausal women, including women up to the age of 76. It has been found that during surgery for other problems two to four percent of post menopausal women were told they had endometriosis for the first time. Forty-two percent of those did not use hormone replacement therapy. This could challenge the idea that endo needs pre menopausal amounts of estrogen to thrive.
It has therefore been found that there is a correlation between Endometriosis and menopause. As seen above pre menopausal and post menopausal (natural or surgical) can still have Endometriosis and experience the following symptoms: Pain in the stomach or pelvic area, Gastrointestinal or bladder problems, and bowel obstruction. Seek medical attention for these.