Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

5 Surprising Things About Endometriosis

Even though endometriosis occurs in around 10 percent of those with a uterus, it’s still not well understood.1

“Unfortunately, like many things in women’s health, it is under funded and under researched,” says Dr. Ken Sinervo, a gynecologist at the Center for Endometriosis Care in Atlanta.2

Compared to other areas of medicine, the amount of research that goes into endometriosis in general is pretty small, he told me. This means much about the disease — like what causes it — is still unknown. A friend in medical school admitted he hadn’t really learned anything about it, and then one of my general practitioners casually told me she didn’t know much about endometriosis.

My GP may not know what’s going on with endo, but I have a Google alert set up and I peruse PubMed — think Google for scientific studies — more than a few times a week.

Here are five surprising things I’ve learned about endometriosis in my research:

Some males have it

A 1985 study reported that an 83-year-old male had an endometrioma in his abdominal wall.3 In 2014, a case report detailed the occurrence of endometriosis in a 52-year-old male with abdominal pain who also had cirrhosis.4

It occurs in fetuses

Displaced endometrial tissue has been observed in female fetuses during postmortem autopsies.5 Finding endometriosis in fetuses — who definitely haven’t had a period — supports the theory that endo could form during embryonic development and not just during retrograde menstruation.

Citrus fruits help but broccoli hurts

According to a study released in early 2018, women who consumed citrus fruits were less likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis, but eating vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts increased the chance for a diagnosis.6

Cruciferous vegetables are high in FODMAPS, a clunky anachronym referring to carbohydrates that ferment in the gut (the good-for-you kind that also cause gas and bloating). Gastrointestinal symptoms could be influencing pain and the diagnosis of endometriosis, said Holly Harris, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who worked on the study.

Endo patients have more allergies and asthma

And finally, in a finding that is supported by my itchy eyes and sinus pressure, those with endo report a higher rate of autoimmune inflammatory diseases, allergies, and asthma.7

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Mehedintu C, Plotogea MN, Ionescu S, Antonovici M. Endometriosis still a challenge. J Med Life. 2014;7(3):348-357. Accessed March 25, 2019.
  2. Wiginton K, Sinervo K. Interview. 2018.
  3. Martin J, Hauck A. Endometriosis in the male. Am Sure. 1985;51(7):426-430. Accessed March 25, 2019.
  4. Jabr F, Mani V. An unusual cause of abdominal pain in a male patient: Endometriosis. Avicenna J Med. 2014;4(4):99-101. Accessed March 25, 2019.
  5. Signorile, P, et al. New evidence of the presence of endometriosis in the human fetus. Reprod Biomed Online. 2010;21(1):142-147. Accessed March 25, 2019.
  6. Harris H, Eke A, Chavarro J, Missmer S. Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of endometriosis. Hum Reprod. 2018;33(4):715-727. Accessed March 25, 2019.
  7. Matalliotakis, et al. I. High rate of allergies among women with endometriosis. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2012;32(3):291-293. Accessed March 25, 2019.