Endometriosis is painful condition in which tissue (endometrium) similar to the lining inside the uterus (womb) is found outside the uterus, where it leads to a chronic inflammation that may result in scar tissue.
The tissue is usually found in the pelvic area or lower abdomen, rarely it can be found in other parts of the body. This tissue continues to act as though it were still in the uterus. It thickens, breaks down and bleeds during a woman’s period. As a result, scar tissue and adhesions form when surrounding tissue becomes irritated.
How common is endometriosis?
It is estimated that about 1 in 10 women between the ages of 15 and 49 is affected. Approximately, about 176 million women in their reproductive years globally are affected.
When does the condition occur?
It can start as early as a girl’s first menstrual flow. It can occur at any age within a woman’s reproductive years. Menopausal women can continue to experience its symptoms if there are scar tissues from the disease or surgery.
Who is likely to have the condition?
The condition can occur in any female but some have a greater risk. There are certain factors that put a female at a greater risk of developing endometriosis. These factors include:
- Having a mother, sister or a relative with the condition
- Having higher levels of estrogen in the body
- Having never given birth
- Low body mass index
- Heavy menstrual cycles that last more than 7 days
- Starting period at an early age (before the age of 11)
- Short menstrual cycles (less than 27 days)
- Going through menopause at an older age
- Alcohol consumption
Is there a way a woman can reduce her risk of having the condition?
The exact cause of endometriosis is not known therefore a woman cannot completely prevent it but there are nevertheless certain things she can do that may reduce her risk. These factors include:
- Eating healthy
- Avoiding alcohol
- Exercising regularly (more than four hours in a week)
- Avoiding large amounts of caffeine