More than five million women have it. About 70 percent of women were told by their doctors that there was nothing wrong, and 40 percent of African-American women were told that it was caused by an STD (sexually-transmitted disease). What is it? Endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a chronic medical condition among women of child-bearing age where the tissue lining the inside wall of the uterus (endometrial tissue) grows outside. When it does, it attaches itself to the ovaries, intestinal tract, bladder, or other areas. The result is pain, and often infertility--the inability to reproduce.
What causes endometriosis?
There are a number of potential causes of endometriosis. These include:
- Pesticides - these are chemicals that can be found in some dairy products, fatty foods and fish. Women with a higher level of pesticides in their blood have 30-70 percent greater risk of developing endometriosis.
- Caffeine - women who drink two or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day, or four cans of soda, are twice as likely to develop endometriosis, compared to other women, according to research from the Harvard School of Public Health.
- Red meat - another study in Italy showed that women who ate seven or more servings of red meat in a week had twice the risk of endometriosis compared with those who ate three or less servings a week.
- Alcohol - the risk of endometriosis was 50 percent higher in women who experienced infertility and drank alcohol compared with those who did not.
Importance of diet and exercise
Some studies have shown that women who eat 14 servings per week of fresh vegetables and fruits have lowered their risk for endometriosis by 20-70 percent. Also avoiding red meat and other cattle that may have been fed grains containing chemicals has reduced the risk of endometriosis. Exercising is also important for reducing hormone activity and strengthening the immune system, both of which will help reduce the risk of endometriosis.