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.
Among women with fertility problems, endometriosis may occur in as many as 50%.1
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.2,3 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 get pregnant even with endometriosis.
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.3,4
In some cases, women with endometriosis also have breast cancer or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. However, these situations are rare.5
For about one-quarter of women diagnosed with endometriosis, endometriosis patches go away on their own.6
Also, after menopause, symptoms of endometriosis typically lessen because there is a drop in the woman's 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 health care providers about treatment options.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2008). Endometriosis. Washington, D.C. [top]
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2008). Endometriosis and infertility: Can surgery help? Retrieved December 10, 2015, from
Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/endometriosis_infertility.pdf (PDF - 239 KB) [top]
- Sayasneh, A., Tsivos, D., & Crawford, R. (2011, July 15). Endometriosis and ovarian cancer: A systematic review. ISRN Obstetrics and Gynecology. Retrieved December 10, 2015, from
- Munksgaard, P. S., & Blaakaer, J. (2011). The association between endometriosis and gynecological cancers and breast cancer: A review of epidemiological data. Gynecologic Oncology, 123, 157–163. [top]
- Melin, A., Sparen, P., Persson, I., & Bergqvist, A. (2006). Endometriosis and the risk of cancer with special emphasis on ovarian cancer. Human Reproduction, 21, 1237–1242. [top]
- Giudice, L. C. (2010). Endometriosis. New England Journal of Medicine, 362, 2389–2398. [top]