• Childhood Abuse Can Cause Endometriosis & Unexplained Infertility

    Dawn Davenport



    Abuse in childhood can cause endometriosis in adulthood.

    Childhood physical or sexual abuse and reproductive disorders later in life.

    Two studies presented found a link between childhood physical or sexual abuse and reproductive disorders later in life. The first study of over 70,000 women followed for 20 years found that woman who reported sexual or physical abuse in childhood had a 13% greater risk of developing endometriosis. The second study of 131 women found that women who experience sexual abuse were 50% more likely to suffer accelerated ovarian follicle loss at midlife.

    The lead researcher of the endometriosis study, Dr. Stacey Missmer, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, said that these studies are part of the growing evidence that stress and trauma affects the hormonal and central nervous center and can result in long term chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, fibroids, diabetes, and reproductive disorders.

    When asked, researchers stressed that these studies do not mean that the majority of women with endometriosis or ovarian failure were abused or that the majority of abused children will develop reproductive disorders later in life. They do, however, provide evidence that extreme stress affects the whole body including reproductive health, and that that childhood and adolescence is a particularly vulnerable window for disease development.

    Image credit: Howard Stanbury

    23/10/2012 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 10 Comments

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    10 Responses to Childhood Abuse Can Cause Endometriosis & Unexplained Infertility

    1. Michele says:

      The title is one of the worst myths I’ve read, except for one in India. There is NO correlation between sexual abuse and Endometriosis, which is GENETIC. HOX Genes 10 and 11 are abhorrent in women with endometriosis. Additionally, women develop the genetic “birth defect” likely in early pregnancy with the mother. This is found in autopsies Endometrial stromal cells have been found in newborns and women in their 70’s. smh..

    2. Kim Whittemore says:

      Dawn, Thank you for sharing this – I have also posted in the Women’s Mental Health and Women’s Sexual Health groups, respectively on Linkedin and shared via facebook and twitter.

    3. Kristin says:

      Wow, this is interesting.

      ICLW #74 Dragondreamer’s Lair

    4. Weaslewam says:

      Wow. That’s an amazing link. I wonder if it’s just correlation, like lower incomes may have higher sexual abuse patterns and poorer health care leading to endo. Interesting stuff though!

    5. anon says:

      I hope whatever might be published about this is done in context, or it’s going to reinforce those “maybe if you just relax” cliches. It could be interpreted as infertily as a state of mind (reaction to a life event) rather than an actual medical condition. Or this there something to “relaxing,” or better, seeking therapy to cope with physiological stress? Did the study compare possible infertility due to child abuse to other stressful life events, like war, natural catastrophies, etc? This raises a lot of questions for me!

      • Dawn Dawn says:

        anon, funny you should bring this up. I spoke with the lead researcher, Dr. Stacey Missmer of Harvard, at length about just that point. She also was quite concerned that the results not be interpreted as further fuel for the “it’s all in your head” camp. Her point is that ALL catastrophic life events affect all parts of our bodies and these impacts can last a lifetime. Childhood abuse also increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, fibroids, etc.

    6. Stopping by from ICLW!! Happy commenting!

    7. It’s amazing you can keep up with the blogs while at the annual meeting!

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