Myths about endometriosis are common and can interfere with diagnosis and treatment of this chronic disease affecting about 10% of women of childbearing age.
Endometriosis is caused when tissue found in the lining of the uterus is found outside of the uterus, usually in the abdomen causing pain, fatigue, and possibly infertility. Endometriosis lesions can be found throughout the abdomen on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surfaces of the uterus; the area between the vagina and rectum; the lining of the pelvic cavity, the bladder, intestines, vagina, and cervix. These endometriosis lesions have even been found outside the abdomen in the lung, arm, and thighs.
As with many chronic diseases, myths abound, and endometriosis is no exception. Which of these myths did you believe?
Common Myths about Endometriosis
- Using tampons or menstrual cups increases the risk for endometriosis because it causes menstrual flow to back up into the fallopian tubes and into the abdomen. [Endometriosis is caused by menstrual flow entering the abdominal cavity from the fallopian tubes, but cramping and contraction, not gravity, plays the largest role in the flow of menstruation.]
- Positions that raise your hips during menstruation, such as certain exercises and yoga positions, increases the risk for endometriosis because it causes menstrual flow to back up into the fallopian tubes. [Same answer as above]
- Increased number of sexual partners increases your risk of having endometriosis. [Nope. We don’t know all the possible causes, but we do know heredity and environmental toxins play a role.]
- Endometriosis always causes infertility. [About 50% of women with endometriosis will be infertile. The more severe the endometriosis, the greater the risk.]
- A definitive diagnosis of endometriosis is necessary before starting fertility treatment. [In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the standard fertility treatment and is about as equally effective with women with endometriosis and without endometriosis, so waiting until a woman has a clear diagnosis or a surgical diagnosis of endometriosis is not necessary.]
- The inflammation and abdominal lesions caused by endometriosis increases the risk of miscarriage. [There have been some reports that suggest a very slight increased risk, but not significant enough to be a major worry.]
I loved this interview on the Latest Developments in the Treatment of Endometriosis I did with Dr. Hugh Taylor, tone of the leading experts in the US on endometriosis and the Anita O’Keeffe Young Professor of Women’s Health and chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, at the Yale School of Medicine, and Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Fess up—which of these myths did you believe?