How Common is Endometriosis?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: November 2019

Endometriosis is a common health problem for women. In the U.S. alone, nearly 6.5 million women have endometriosis. That means roughly 1 in 10 U.S. women between ages 15 and 44 live with the condition. Other countries report similar rates of endometriosis.1-2

Researchers believe this may underestimate the true number of women with the condition. Many women are misdiagnosed with another condition, are still waiting for a diagnosis, or thought their symptoms were just part of the menstrual cycle. Many women are not diagnosed until they undergo surgery for some other condition.

It takes the average woman 7.5 years to get a correct diagnosis of endometriosis. The only way to definitely confirm endometriosis is through a surgery called a laparoscopy.3

Who gets endometriosis?

Doctors do not know what causes endometriosis. Certain women seem more likely to develop it than others, including those who have:1,4,5

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  • A close family with endometriosis (mother, aunt, sister)
  • Started menstruation early (before age 11)
  • Menstrual periods that last more than 7 days
  • 27 days or less between periods
  • Have heavy bleeding during periods
  • Never had children
  • Have low oxygen or iron levels in the blood
  • Any other health problem that keeps menstrual blood from leaving the body during a period

Women with a family history of endometriosis have 10 times the risk of developing the condition.5

Endometriosis is common in certain groups of women:6

  • Up to 50 percent of women who have trouble getting pregnant
  • Up to 90 percent of grown women with regular, severe pelvic pain
  • 45 percent of teens with regular, severe pelvic pain

Very rarely, a man will be diagnosed with endometriosis after being exposed to high doses of estrogens.5

Does age impact endometriosis?

Endometriosis can begin as soon as a girl first gets her period. However, most women are diagnosed between ages 25-35, often when trying to figure out why they cannot get pregnant. While every case is different, endometriosis tends to progress as a women ages.4-5

Girls and young women diagnosed with endometriosis by laparoscopy (surgery) are found to have structural differences in their pelvis 75 percent of the time. Menopause often leads to an end of symptoms.5

Does ethnicity affect endometriosis?

Several studies show that Asian women are more likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis. Hispanic, African American, and Black women are less likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis compared to white women. European and Japanese women respond to common endometriosis treatments in similar ways.7-8 Other studies report no differences between women from different ethnic groups who have endometriosis.5

One study found that it takes women in the U.S. longer to be diagnosed than women in Puerto Rico.6

Learn more about endometriosis

You can also hear other women’s experiences with endometriosis in our stories and forums.