My sister was just diagnosed with endometriosis. Am I at risk?

Yes, having a family member, such as a mother, sister or aunt, with endometriosis might increase your risk of getting the condition. But other important factors could also play a role.

Factors that might increase the risk of endometriosis include:

  • Never giving birth
  • Starting your period at an early age
  • Going through menopause at an older age
  • Short menstrual cycles — for instance, less than 27 days
  • Higher levels of estrogen in your body or a greater lifetime exposure to estrogen your body produces
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Low body mass index (BMI)
  • One or more relatives (mother, aunt or sister) with endometriosis
  • Any medical condition that prevents the normal passage of menstrual flow out of the vagina
  • Reproductive tract abnormalities

Factors that might reduce the risk of endometriosis include:

  • Giving birth multiple times
  • Long periods of breast-feeding
  • Starting your period at a late age
  • Oral contraceptive use
  • Regular exercise

Common endometriosis symptoms include painful periods, pelvic pain, pain with sex, heavy bleeding during your period and bleeding in between periods. Endometriosis can also make it difficult to get pregnant. If you're experiencing any such symptoms, talk about your concerns with your doctor. Be sure to mention your family history of endometriosis.

Jan. 30, 2020 See more Expert Answers