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  • Health experts have not determined what exactly causes endometriosis. However, possible connections between this ailment and other bodily factors and processes have been discovered
  • There are also certain risk factors that may increase your chances of being diagnosed with endometriosis
 

What Causes Endometriosis?

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Unfortunately, health experts have not determined what exactly causes endometriosis.1 However, possible connections between this ailment and other bodily factors and processes have been discovered, including:2,3,4

Reverse or retrograde menstruation: this is a theory about endometriosis that mainly occurs during the regular menstrual cycle. Tissue backs up through the fallopian tubes and into the abdomen where it attaches and grows.

Endometrial cell transport: in some cases, endometrial tissue travels via the lymphatic system or blood channels and plants itself in different parts of the body, similar to how cancer cells proliferate.

Embryonic cell growth: this suggests that cells found in other parts of the body, like the abdomen and pelvis, transform into endometrial cells.

Surgical scars: endometrial cells may be triggered to attach to an incision made because of a procedure such as a hysterectomy or C-section.

Fetal development: research has shown that endometriosis may already be present in a developing fetus possibly because of pubertal estrogen levels.

Weakened immune system: a weak immune system may not be able to find and destroy endometrial tissue. It’s said that immune system disorders and certain types of cancers are a common scenario among women with endometriosis.

Genetics: while the link between endometriosis and genetics has not been proven yet, a woman could be at risk for endometriosis by five to seven times more if she has a close female relative experiencing this condition.

Hormones, specifically estrogen: during your menstrual cycle, the hormone estrogen is responsible for helping thicken the lining of your uterus. Unfortunately, it greatly influences your chances of having endometriosis, especially at elevated levels.

These Risk Factors May Make the Difference

There are also certain risk factors that may increase your chances of being diagnosed with endometriosis. These include:5,6

Giving birth for the first time after age 30

Having an abnormal uterus

Having a medical condition that prevents expulsion of menstrual blood and spurs pelvic infection or uterine abnormalities

Having menses that last more than seven days or having menstrual cycles that are less than 27 days apart

Lighter skin: white women have a higher risk of endometriosis

Watch Out for These Complications

If you start noticing symptoms of endometriosis, a check-up is crucial, since complications could arise, such as long-term pelvic pain and development of large cysts in the pelvis that may rupture. Sometimes, endometriosis tissue could block the intestines or urinary tract or even develop in areas where tissues grow post-menopause, but these side effects are considered to be rare.7

Women with endometriosis may find it difficult to get pregnant, as around 30 to 50 percent of females with this condition may experience infertility. Endometriosis can cause inflammation of the pelvic structure, scarred fallopian tubes, alterations in the hormonal environment of the eggs and altered egg quality, to name a few.8

Fortunately, most women with mild endometriosis symptoms can still get pregnant. Fertility treatments or a procedure called a laparoscopy, which removes growths and scar tissue, are some options that women with endometriosis can consider if they want to get pregnant.9

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