What Causes Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or other infection of any kind, nor is it contagious. Often called a “disease of theories," the definitive cause remains under debate. However, recent studies indicate that genetics, immune dysfunction, cell transformation (called metaplasia) and exposure to environmental toxicants may all be contributing factors. More recently, landmark studies have implicated mesenchymal stem cells in the origins of the disease.
Any girl or woman of any racial, ethnic and socioeconomic background can develop endometriosis, which is neither contagious nor preventable, but some patients may be genetically predisposed. For example, a woman with a mother or sister who has the disease is 6 times more likely to develop endometriosis herself. Those who begin their period at an early age, experience heavy periods, have periods that last more than 7 days, and/or experience short monthly cycles (27 days or less) may also be at an increased risk. Nonetheless, no single theory explains the development of endometriosis in all patients; more likely, a composite of several mechanisms is involved.