What are the risk factors for endometriosis?

Research shows that certain factors may increase or decrease a woman’s risk for endometriosis.

Studies show that women are at higher risk for endometriosis if they:

  • Have a mother, sister, or daughter with endometriosis1
  • Started their periods at an early age (before age 11)2
  • Have short monthly cycles (less than 27 days)2
  • Have heavy menstrual periods that last more than 7 days2
  • Are infertile3

Some studies suggest that having a lean body mass or low body fat may increase a woman’s risk for endometriosis.4

Studies also show that some factors may lower the risk for endometriosis, including:

  • Pregnancy3
  • Periods that started late in adolescence5
  • Breastfeeding6
  • Eating more fruit, especially citrus fruits7


  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (2019). Endometriosis. Retrieved October 10, 2019, from https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Endometriosis external link
  2. ACOG. (2010, reaffirmed 2018). Practice Bulletin No. 114: Management of endometriosis. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 116(1), 223–236. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Citation/2010/07000/Practice_Bulletin_No__114__Management_of.41.aspx external link
  3. Peterson, C. M., Johnstone, E. B., Hammoud, A. O., Stanford, J. B., Varner, M. W., Kennedy, A., et al. (2013). Risk factors associated with endometriosis: Importance of study population for characterizing disease in the ENDO Study. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology208(6), 451.e1–451.11. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4114145/
  4. Farland, L. V., Missmer, S. A., Bijon, A., Gusto, G., Gelot, A., Clavel-Chapelon, F., et al. (2017). Associations among body size across the life course, adult height, and endometriosis. Human reproduction (Oxford, England), 32(8), 1732–1742. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5850750/
  5. Treloar, S. A., Bell, T. A., Nagle, C. M., Purdie, D. M., & Green, A. C. (2010). Early menstrual characteristics associated with subsequent diagnosis of endometriosis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 202(6), 534.e1–534.e6. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002937809019802?via%3Dihub external link
  6. Farland, L. V., Eliassen, A. H., Tamimi, R. M., Spiegelman, D., Michels, K. B., & Missmer, S. A. (2017). History of breast feeding and risk of incident endometriosis: Prospective cohort study. BMJ (Clinical research ed.)358, j3778. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://www.bmj.com/content/358/bmj.j3778 external link
  7. Harris, H. R., Eke, A. C., Chavarro, J. E., & Missmer, S. A. (2018). Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of endometriosis. Human reproduction (Oxford, England)33(4), 715–727. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6018917/
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