Endometriosis is a reproductive condition affecting about 11% of women during their lives. It’s characterized by pelvic pain and infertility, and it can happen to any woman.
Endometriosis develops when endometrial tissue (or tissue that mimics it) travels outside your uterus. The tissue builds up and sheds each month with your menstrual cycle, but it can get trapped inside your body if you have endometriosis, causing inflammation and other issues.
Samuel D. Van Kirk, MD, and our gynecology team support women of all ages with comprehensive health services, including endometriosis care. Find out if you’re at risk for this common condition, and learn to recognize some of the telltale symptoms.
Risk factors for endometriosis
Endometriosis doesn’t have clear causes. Any woman who gets menstrual periods is at risk for this chronic condition, but certain factors could make an endometriosis diagnosis more likely.
Your risk for endometriosis increases if ...
You’re 30-50 years old
Most women diagnosed with endometriosis are in their 30s and 40s, but it’s possible for younger women and teens to have it too. As you get older, your risk may increase if you’ve never been pregnant or given birth.
You’ve never given birth
Not having children could increase your risk of having endometriosis, but the links between endometriosis and fertility aren’t fully understood. Endometriosis is one of the most common treatable causes of infertility, but infertility and not giving birth can also cause endometriosis.
You have abnormal menstrual cycles
Normal menstrual cycles last 28 days on average, with monthly menstrual periods lasting from 2-7 days. If you have a short cycle that’s less than 25 days or you regularly have periods that last longer than seven days, you could be at risk for endometriosis.
Women who got their first menstrual period before the age of 11 or who entered menopause late may also be more likely to have endometriosis.
You have a family history of endometriosis
Because the condition tends to run in families, it’s possible that endometriosis has genetic factors. If your mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother has endometriosis, you could be more likely to have it too.
Recognizing signs of endometriosis
Endometriosis is common, but symptoms vary from woman to woman. If you’re at risk for endometriosis, it’s important to familiarize yourself with warning signs so you can find treatment.
Common symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Pelvic pain
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Bleeding between periods
- Painful intercourse
- Painful urination or bowel movements
Only about one-third of women with pelvic pain and unusually heavy periods seek treatment, but you shouldn’t have to live with the symptoms of unmanaged endometriosis.
For other women, endometriosis might not cause noticeable symptoms. It’s possible to have endometriosis and not know it, only to receive a diagnosis when you have trouble getting pregnant.
Dr. Van Kirk and our team are experts in identifying, diagnosing, and treating endometriosis so you can live more comfortably. To learn more, schedule a consultation in our Redding, California, office online or over the phone today.