Endometriosis Myths Fact or Fiction

Endometriosis Myths Fact or Fiction

Debunking Endometriosis Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction

Endometriosis is a chronic condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide. It occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the womb, leading to various symptoms and complications. Unfortunately, this condition is often misunderstood, giving rise to numerous myths that leave people confused and misinformed. In this article, we will debunk some of the most common myths surrounding endometriosis, providing clarity and scientific insights to help separate fact from fiction.

Understanding Endometriosis

Before we dive into the myths, let’s have a brief overview of endometriosis. This condition primarily affects people assigned female at birth, but it can also occur in males, albeit rarely. The symptoms of endometriosis can vary widely, causing pain during periods, sexual intercourse, urination, and bowel movements. Other symptoms may include nausea, fatigue, and mental health concerns.

It is estimated that approximately 10% of females of reproductive age worldwide have endometriosis. However, due to varied symptoms and delayed diagnosis, the actual number could be even higher. Risk factors for endometriosis include a family history of the condition, early onset of periods, heavy and prolonged periods, and a history of short monthly cycles.

Myth #1: Periods are normally very heavy, very painful, or both

Many people mistakenly believe that intense pain and heavy bleeding during periods are normal. While it is true that more than half of menstruating individuals experience some degree of period pain, severe pain can sometimes indicate the presence of endometriosis. However, it’s important to note that endometriosis can manifest in different ways, causing pain in various areas beyond the pelvic region.

Dr. Carly King, a licensed naturopathic doctor, explains, “Periods can be heavy and painful with endometriosis, but it’s not always the case. Pain can show up in other areas, such as with bowel pain, urinary pain, ovulation pain, as well as pain in other areas of the body.” Therefore, it is best to consult a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your menstrual pain.

Myth #2: Pregnancy can cure endometriosis

It is a prevailing myth that pregnancy can cure endometriosis. However, this is not the case. While some individuals may experience temporary relief from symptoms during pregnancy, others may not see any improvement, and some might even experience worsening symptoms. Dr. Barbara Stegmann, a clinical lead in Women’s Health, clarifies that “there are no cures for endometriosis.” Pregnancy can bring hormonal changes that may impact pain levels, but it does not eliminate the underlying condition.

Research also suggests that pregnancy does not offer long-term benefits for women with endometriosis. Although some endometriosis lesions may regress during pregnancy, others can remain stable or even grow. Therefore, it is crucial to seek appropriate medical management and not rely solely on pregnancy as a solution for endometriosis.

Myth #3: A hysterectomy can cure endometriosis

A hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus, is often seen as a potential cure for endometriosis. While a hysterectomy may alleviate symptoms for many individuals, it does not guarantee a permanent solution. Endometriosis can recur even after surgery, especially if endometrial lesions are present outside of the uterus.

Dr. King emphasizes that “symptoms can also continue if there are endometrial lesions still present outside of the uterus.” Furthermore, Dr. Stegmann explains that a hysterectomy usually removes the uterus, not the ovaries. Since endometriosis responds to estrogen, which is produced by the ovaries, a hysterectomy alone may not eliminate the condition. Additionally, deep infiltrating endometriosis (DIE), which involves lesions invading other organs, may persist even after the removal of the uterus or ovary.

Myth #4: Endometriosis only affects the female reproductive organs

Contrary to popular belief, endometriosis can affect areas beyond the reproductive organs. While most endometriosis lesions are found in the pelvis and lower abdomen, they can develop anywhere in the body. Dr. King remarks that “endometriosis lesions are most commonly found in the pelvis and lower abdomen, but they can develop elsewhere.” In fact, endometriosis has been detected in unexpected locations, such as the lining of the lungs and even the brain.

Dr. Stegmann clarifies that “most endometriosis does not affect the reproductive organs but implants on the inside of your abdomen on a surface called the peritoneum.” These implants cause pain, but with proper monitoring and support from healthcare professionals, potential implants in other locations can be identified. Recent studies also suggest that endometriosis affecting distant organs may be more prevalent than previously recognized.

Myth #5: Endometriosis always causes pain

Pain is a hallmark symptom of endometriosis, with a large percentage of individuals experiencing chronic pelvic pain. However, it is important to debunk the myth that endometriosis always causes pain. Dr. King highlights that it is possible to have endometriosis without experiencing any pain. Severity of pain does not always correlate with the severity of the condition. Some individuals with mild forms of endometriosis may experience excruciating pain, while others with more advanced stages may have minimal or no pain at all.

Dr. Stegmann explains this phenomenon, saying, “Some people with mild forms of endometriosis have excruciating pain, and some people with DIE have little or no pain at all.” The presence or absence of pain may be related to factors such as the release of pain-causing chemicals and the location of the endometrial implants. In some cases, individuals may only discover they have advanced endometriosis during abdominal surgery for unrelated reasons.

Myth #6: Menopause stops endometriosis

Although menopause signifies the end of reproductive years, it does not necessarily bring an end to endometriosis. Contrary to popular belief, endometriosis can develop or persist even after menopause. Dr. King affirms this, stating that “endometriosis doesn’t necessarily end when you’re in menopause. In fact, the condition can develop years after your periods stop.”

Dr. Stegmann explains that menopause may not cure endometriosis because it does not eliminate the underlying hormonal factors that contribute to the condition. If endometriosis-related pain continues after menopause, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate pain management options.

Myth #7: Endometriosis equals infertility

While endometriosis is associated with fertility challenges, it does not automatically lead to infertility. Studies suggest that 30-50% of individuals with endometriosis experience difficulty getting pregnant. However, it is crucial to note that many individuals with endometriosis have successfully conceived and carried pregnancies to term.

Dr. Stegmann shares her experience, stating, “I have had patients with severe endometriosis who became pregnant and those with mild endometriosis who have issues.” The impact of endometriosis on fertility can vary greatly among individuals. Working closely with a healthcare professional and exploring appropriate treatments can increase the chances of successful conception.

Myth #8: Abortion causes endometriosis

The myth that abortion can cause endometriosis has no basis in scientific evidence. Dr. King clarifies, “While the exact cause of endometriosis is still unknown, there does appear to be a genetic link. There is no evidence that abortion causes endometriosis.” Dr. Stegmann is unequivocal in her response, stating categorically that “there is no association between abortion and endometriosis.”

It is essential to rely on accurate information when discussing topics like endometriosis and abortion to prevent the spread of misinformation and unnecessary fears.

Myth #9: Birth control pills can cure endometriosis

Some people believe that birth control pills can cure endometriosis, but this is not the case. While birth control pills can help manage symptoms by regulating hormones and preventing bleeding, they do not provide a permanent cure for the condition. Dr. Stegmann emphasizes, “Nothing cures endometriosis. But birth control pills do treat endometriosis by leveling out your hormones and preventing you from bleeding.”

In addition to birth control pills, other medications such as pain relievers and hormone-suppressing drugs can help manage endometriosis symptoms. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved specific medications for pain relief associated with endometriosis.

Myth #10: High estrogen levels cause endometriosis

Contrary to popular belief, high estrogen levels have not been proven to cause endometriosis. However, estrogen-blocking medications can help alleviate symptoms. Research suggests that while estrogen itself may not directly cause endometriosis, it plays a role in the processes associated with the condition.

Recent studies have shed light on the potential involvement of the immune system in endometriosis development. Activation of specific white blood cells and chronic inflammation may contribute to the progression of the condition. Thus, prevention and treatment strategies for endometriosis may involve therapies targeting immune system activity in addition to hormonal factors.


Endometriosis is a complex condition that affects many individuals, requiring accurate information to dispel myths and misconceptions. By debunking these common myths, we hope to bring clarity and understanding to this often misunderstood condition. Remember, seeking proper medical advice and relying on scientific evidence are crucial for managing endometriosis effectively.