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Will Your Daughter Have Endometriosis Too?

No one knows exactly what causes endometriosis. But whether it's environmental factors, retrograde menstruation, or endometrial tissue present at birth, there is familial link with the disease.1 Researchers are still figuring out just how strong the association is, but current estimates say genes account for up to 50 percent of why someone might get endo.2

Studies show that first-degree relatives — siblings, children, parents — are 5-10 percent more likely than the general population to get the condition confirmed through surgery.1,3 And in one small study, the disease showed up in three generations of mothers and daughters.4

Here are some other familial facts:  

  • Endometriosis is more likely to show up in both twins when they are identical rather than fraternal.3
  • In women who have had endometriosis laparoscopically removed, recurrence is higher in those with a family history of the disease.5
  • There are at least 142 menstruating animals who can get endometriosis, and there is a family relationship documented in monkeys.6

You may not share your daughter's symptoms 

If you have endo, there's a chance your child will to. However, she might not experience it the same way. My mother had lesions all over one of her fallopian tubes, but she never had cramps. She breezed through her menstrual cycle and was only diagnosed after she had a hard time getting pregnant. My periods were incapacitating from the start. When I was searching for answers in my teens and 20s, she never mentioned her endo. She had no idea the condition caused pain.

Should you see a doctor?

Your daughter's gynecologist should be aware of your endo, especially if your child talks about having typical symptoms like pelvic pain and debilitating periods. But if your daughter hasn't reached puberty yet, bring it up with your own doctor. There isn't any way to prevent endometriosis, yet, but your OBGYN might have advice on signs you should look out for. But most of all, offer your daughter support and guidance. Even if you can't stop her endometriosis, you can be her advocate.

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