I've reached menopause. Can I still get endometriosis?
Endometriosis is still possible after menopause — though it's fairly rare. The hormone estrogen likely contributes to endometriosis, and once you reach menopause, your body produces very little estrogen. If you're in menopause, you might find relief from endometriosis symptoms.
But not always. Some women continue to experience endometriosis symptoms after menopause. And there have been reports of women diagnosed with endometriosis after menopause without prior symptoms. Experts aren't sure why, but factors that might increase the risk include:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT helps ease menopausal hot flashes and vaginal dryness. But research shows that taking HRT might increase the risk of endometriosis after menopause.
- Tamoxifen. Tamoxifen (Soltamox) is a common breast cancer treatment because it has anti-estrogen effects on breast tissue. These effects help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. Tamoxifen has the opposite effect on endometrial tissue, however, which may increase the risk of endometriosis in postmenopausal women who take the drug.
If you continue to have symptoms of endometriosis after menopause, talk with your doctor. These symptoms might be caused by cancer that's mimicking endometriosis, so your doctor might recommend evaluation.
Jan. 30, 2020
Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Inceboz U. Endometriosis after menopause. Women's Health. 2015;11:711.
- Top questions about menopause. Office on Women's Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/files/documents/fact-sheet-menopause.pdf. Accessed Dec. 27, 2019.
- Endometriosis. Office on Women's Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis. Accessed Feb. 21, 2018.
- Gemmell LC, et al. The management of menopause in women with a history of endometriosis: A systematic review. Human Reproduction Update. 2017;23:481.
- Laughlin-Tommaso SK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 4, 2018.