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Frequently Asked Questions

Endometriosis: Fast Facts

  • Endometriosis is a disease of the female reproductive system
  • Endometriosis affects women during childbearing age (from her first period until menopause)
  • Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women worldwide
  • Symptoms typically begin during puberty
  • There is an average of a 10-year delay in diagnosing endometriosis
  • Endometriosis is one of the leading causes of infertility

Is there a “cure” for endometriosis?

There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are many treatment options to greatly improve patients’ quality of life.

 

What if my period comes once and then not again for three or four months?

During puberty there are often menstrual irregularities that occur.  These usually stabilize over time, but, if you have specific questions or concerns, you can always contact your doctor to be sure.

 

Will endometriosis affect a girl if she’s already had a baby?

A girl who has already had a baby can still have endometriosis.  Pregnancy, and the increase in progesterone levels often relieve women of symptoms, but they typically return after birth and/or after stopping breastfeeding.

 

How/why does endometriosis cause infertility?

Researchers are still trying to understand the relationship between endometriosis and infertility, but approximately 30-40% of women with the disease are infertile.  This makes endometriosis one of the top three causes of female infertility.  Many women are unaware of their infertility or endometriosis until they attempt to get pregnant.  In some women, endometriosis goes untreated and the disease progression allows the endometrial lesions to block the fallopian tubes and inhibit ovulatory functioning.  Some studies also suggest that endometriosis may alter the uterus such that it does not accept an embryo, however, this notion requires more research.

 

What kind of doctor should I see about this?

It is important to talk to a gynecologist about any symptoms related to your reproductive health.  Do not be afraid to seek a second opinion if you do not receive the care you think you need.

 

Can you recommend a doctor to see?

The EFA cannot provide you with direct medical advice or refer you to a doctor, but you can use Google and your zip code to find a convenient gynecologist.  Additionally, there are many community resources in New York City for gynecological care including Planned Parenthood, Community Healthcare Network, The Door, Children’s Aid Society, etc. Links to other resources are below:

 

Can birth control cause other problems like blood clots?

Yes, birth control can cause a range of side effects, however, many patients say they are much easier to manage than the symptoms of endometriosis.  The risks of any medication or intervention must be discussed with your doctor.

 

How is endometriosis different from uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are similar in that they develop from the cells of the lining of the uterus, but they remain inside the uterus and are often asymptomatic.

 

How is endometriosis different from ovarian cysts?

Ovarian cysts are typically caused when the egg-releasing follicle in the ovary continues to grow.  They remain in or on the surface of the ovary, and are typically harmless.

 

If you get a hysterectomy, will the pain stop?

When the uterus is removed, the woman no longer has any chance of becoming pregnant.  Therefore, the EFA does not recommend a hysterectomy as a sound treatment option for endometriosis.  Pain associated with endometriosis does not necessarily stop when a hysterectomy is completed as the ovaries continue to produce estrogen, facilitating disease progression.  Additionally, lesions may still be found on other organs (perhaps unrelated to the reproductive system), which may cause symptom manifestation.

 

Can endometriosis be transmitted through sex?

No, endometriosis cannot be transmitted through sexual contact.

 

How is endometriosis caused? Are you born with it?

Research is still ongoing to determine the exact cause of endometriosis, but it is thought there is likely some genetic component.

 

Can hair relaxer cause endometriosis?

There is ongoing research to investigate the role of environmental exposure and endometriosis manifestation.

 

Are there any links between endometriosis and cancer?

This is an area of research that is just beginning to expand.  Many of the tissue samples taken from endometriosis patients are not viable for further research as they are destroyed during the treatment.  However, the cold excision that the EFA endorses is one technique that allows for the samples to be spared.