Endometriosis is a condition that can impact your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis, and can be painful.1
It may also be hereditary. Endometriosis can run in families, so genetics may play a role in how it develops in some—but not all—women.2 So if you have a close family member with endometriosis, or you exhibit some of the symptoms, you may be wondering how to prevent endometriosis.
Let’s take a look.
Endometriosis happens when tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus—known as the endometrium—grows outside your uterus.1 These cells might stick to pelvic organs like your bladder or fallopian tubes. The cells try to shed during your period, but the blood has nowhere to go.3
Since it’s trapped, this blood causes inflammation of nearby organs and tissues, leading to endometriosis symptoms like pain, fatigue and digestive problems, and in some cases, infertility.3 This chronic inflammatory disorder is believed to impact 6-10% percent of women of childbearing age.4
As well, it’s estimated that if you have a family member with endometriosis, you are up to 7 times more likely to also get endometriosis than a person who has no first-degree relatives with the disease. Doctors believe this increased risk is because inherited genes make you more susceptible to the disease.5
In particular, you may be at higher risk of developing endometriosis if you have a grandmother, mother, sister or daughter who has endometriosis.6
How To Prevent Endometriosis
If endometriosis runs in your family, you likely know how painful and distressing it can be, and the pain is worse during your period. In some cases it can also impact your ability to get pregnant. So you will want to know how to prevent endometriosis.
While you may not be able to prevent it completely, you can reduce your chances by lowering the levels of the hormone estrogen in your body. Estrogen helps to thicken the lining of your uterus during your menstrual cycle, and can lead to endometriosis.7
Here are some guidelines to keep estrogen levels low:
- Regular exercise. This can help reduce body fat too, and the combination of regular exercise and a lower amount of body fat can decrease the amount of estrogen circulating through the body.7
- Avoid large amounts of alcohol. Besides the other health risks associated with having more than one drink per day, alcohol raises estrogen levels.7
- Don’t overdo it with caffeine. This is another culprit that may raise estrogen levels. Stick to one or two caffeinated drinks a day, and especially avoid sodas.7
There are other factors that may reduce your risk of endometriosis, although some are out of your control:
- maintaining a weight that’s healthy for you8
- starting your menstrual period at a later age8
If you can’t prevent endometriosis, just being aware of the symptoms and whether you could be at higher risk can help you know when to talk about the condition with a doctor.6
Seek Medical Advice
If you suspect you have endometriosis, or you have someone in your family who has this condition, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss prevention or diagnosis. Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health, who can help with advice on prevention of endometriosis. Remember to share your family history with your healthcare provider.5 If your estrogen levels are high, you can also talk to your doctor about hormonal birth control methods with lower doses of estrogen.7