Do women and girls diagnosed with endometriosis have a higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases than other women?
Scientists from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development focusing on reproductive health conducted research that revealed several interesting facts. They found out that at least one in five patients suffering from uterine inflammation has endometriosis. One out of three patients diagnosed with the condition suffers from autoimmune diseases.
What is the relationship? Let us start from the basics.
What Is Endometriosis?
This is a disease that affects the hormonal and immune system in women. It causes the endometrium (the tissue lining normally located in the uterus) to grow outside the womb. The uterine condition has been found to cause infertility and painful menstrual periods among those affected.
Its symptoms include lower back pains, excruciating period pains, heavy menstrual flow, infertility, and pain after sexual activity. Recent studies show that women affected by the disease have a high risk of developing autoimmune diseases, depression, and anxiety.
What Is an Autoimmune Disease?
It is a condition that triggers your immune system to erroneously attack the body, contrary to its purpose. Normally, the immune system repels attacks from bacteria and viruses that try to weaken the functioning of your body.
The system has the capacity to distinguish foreign cells from the body’s cells. When the body develops the autoimmune disease, the immune system may start releasing autoantibodies that will attack healthy body cells.
What Is the Link Between the Uterine Condition and Autoimmune Diseases?
Research is yet to establish the main causes of the endometriosis. However, some reports suggest that it could be a combination of various determinants such as immune dysfunction and genetics. Although the condition hasn’t been classified as an autoimmune disease, there are facts that show it may trigger the development of an autoimmune disease in a patient.
The uterine condition results in inflammatory effects that may cause an imbalance in the immune system of the victim. While the immune system protects our bodies against foreign attackers, the system can fall out of balance. Inflammation is usually one of the effects of an autoimmune response.
What Conditions Could Occur?
The condition could trigger the development of several autoimmune diseases. Chances are high that a woman with the uterine condition develops an autoimmune condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or hypothyroidism. Inflammation is observed in all the cases highlighted above, which clearly shows a link between these health conditions.
Inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis are some of the autoimmune conditions that doctors suspect could be linked to endometriosis. Further studies are focusing on examining the connection to adopt the right preventive measures.
Reports show that out of the total population of women suffering from the uterine condition, a significant percentage went back to the hospital seeking remedies for autoimmune diseases. This percentage is high compared to that of the general population affected by autoimmune diseases. These findings show that the uterine disease significantly increases women’s chances of autoimmune diseases.