Basic information for topics, such as “What is it?” and “How many people are affected?” is available in the About Endometriosis section. Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that are specific to a certain topic are answered in this section.
Many women with fertility problems have endometriosis. But exactly how endometriosis causes infertility is not clear. Some evidence suggests that infertility is related to the extent of the endometriosis patches, because the patches can distort the pelvic anatomy. This would make it difficult for sperm to travel to the ovary or a fertilized egg to travel to the uterus.1 Other evidence suggests that the inflammation in the abdomen may disrupt ovulation or fertilization, or that the endometrium may not develop properly, hampering the attachment of the embryo to the uterus.
There are treatments for endometriosis-related infertility that may help women with endometriosis get pregnant.
Endometriosis and endometrial cancer are not the same. The word “endometrium” describes the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus. Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the inside of the uterus. Endometriosis itself is not a form of cancer.
There is a slight increase in the risk of ovarian cancer among women with endometriosis, particularly among women who were diagnosed with the condition at an early age. However, it is unclear whether endometriosis causes ovarian cancer or if the two conditions share risk factors or disease mechanisms that make them more likely to occur together.2
Some studies have found small links to other types of cancer, but the links are much less clear.
For some women diagnosed with endometriosis, endometriosis patches go away on their own.3
Also, after menopause, symptoms of endometriosis typically lessen because there is a drop in the natural hormones and the growths gradually shrink. However, this is not true for all women. If a woman takes hormones for menopausal symptoms, both her pain symptoms and the growths may return.
Women with endometriosis who are experiencing symptoms, especially after menopause, should talk with their healthcare providers about treatment options.
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2012). Endometriosis and infertility: a committee opinion . Fertility and Sterility, 98(3), 591-598.
- Wang, C., Liang, Z., Liu, X., Zhang, Q., & Li, S. (2016). The association between endometriosis, tubal ligation, hysterectomy, and epithelial ovarian cancer: Meta-analyses. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(11), 1138. doi:10.3390/ijerph13111138. Retrieved January 23, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5129348/
- Giudice, L. C. (2010). Endometriosis. New England Journal of Medicine, 362(25), 2389–2398. Retrieved February 11, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108065/