Endometriosis and Autoimmune Diseases
Last updated: April 2023
While not officially classified as an autoimmune disease, there are many doctors and other health professionals who support and recognize endometriosis as an autoimmune disease, despite its unofficial classification.
Endometriosis was my very first of five chronic illness diagnoses. I would give anything to be able to go back in time and warn myself of the (potential) link between endometriosis and autoimmune diseases.
Perhaps by sharing what I’ve learned over the years, I hope to be able to at least give you some information so that you will be able to make the best choices for you and potentially avoid the same fate.
Endometriosis and autoimmune diseases
While it is still unclear whether having endometriosis is simply a risk factor for autoimmune diseases, considered a comorbidity, or simply a possible predictor of autoimmune disease involvement is yet to be definitively proven. In addition, endometriosis has yet to be officially classified as an autoimmune disease.
However, simply looking at our community here, it is pretty clear that there is a link to be found, despite any official classifications yet to be made.
What we do know is that endometriosis is closely related to inflammation in the body, in the same way, many autoimmune diseases are. Identifying common factors of causation further lends credence to potential links between endometriosis and autoimmune disease activity.
What can you do?
Education and awareness is priority
Those original reading commercials and public service announcements from the ’80s and ’90s weren’t lying. The more you know, the better off you will be.
Endometriosis research is finally starting to catch up with other more researched diseases. Simply being part of a community can do wonders to not only keep you updated but be an excellent source of support and understanding.
Evaluate natural and prescription ways to lower inflammation levels
What endo and autoimmune diseases have in common are the key points of inflammation and immune dysfunction. Lower inflammation levels lead to lower chances of developing (additional) autoimmune diseases.
I know, easier said than done. But new evidence is emerging every day about the links between the food we eat, the exercises we do or don’t do, how we manage our stress, and many other things within our control that can all contribute to lowering or raising the inflammation levels in our bodies.
Carefully track all symptoms
When it comes to pretty much any autoimmune disease, early diagnosis and treatment are key. The easiest way to receive both is to carefully track your symptoms related and unrelated to your endometriosis.
I know it can feel like a chore and sometimes can lead to us focusing too much on how we feel. However, careful symptom tracking can help doctors find patterns for autoimmune conditions that are already traditionally tricky to diagnose.
Be aware of the role of family history
Family history plays a significant role in both endometriosis and autoimmune diseases. Being aware of your family history and genetic predisposition can really help in both disease diagnosis and even possibly prevention.
Because I have both endometrioses as well as several autoimmune diseases myself, I am very aware that my daughters are also statistically more likely to develop either or both endo and autoimmune diseases. Simply that knowledge can put us ahead of the game if they begin to develop any symptoms, in particular, my daughter with juvenile psoriatic arthritis.
Possible implications for treatment options
Perhaps the greatest implication of classifying endometriosis as an autoimmune disease comes in the form of treatment options. Viewing endometriosis as an autoimmune disease could open up the use of types of medications beyond hormonal treatments and into immunomodulators (such as DMARDs) and other immune modifying therapies.
Which symptoms are you experiencing the most this week? (Check all that apply):