A recent study published in the BMJ suggests that breastfeeding may reduce a woman’s risk of endometriosis. The Nurses’ Health Study II ran from 1989 to 2011. Included in the cohort were over 72,000 women who had one or more pregnancies. Of these, 3,296 women had confirmed endometriosis. The investigators found that women who breastfed for a year or more had a 32% reduced risk of endometriosis. Every additional three months of breastfeeding further reduced the risk of endometriosis by 8%. There is no cure for endometriosis other than removing the source of its growth which is estrogen, however, finding ways to reduce the risks can be helpful.
Endometriosis is a chronic gynecologic condition that impacts greater than 10% of women. The cause of endometriosis is unknown, however, many theories have been proposed. Many patients ask us how do you know you have endometriosis? The most common symptoms associated with endometriosis are painful periods, painful intercourse, and infertility. Some women with endometriosis have no symptoms and only become aware of it when they have trouble becoming pregnant. Various medical and surgical treatment options are available to try to keep endometriosis at bay. Unfortunately, thus far, there are no reliable interventions to prevent endometriosis from developing in the first place. While further investigation is necessary, breastfeeding may offer one potential strategy to decrease a woman’s future risk of endometriosis.
Endometriosis is associated with both physical and emotional distress, especially for women having difficulty becoming pregnant. At Fertility Centers of New England, we have extensive experience treating fertility issues in women with endometriosis. Consulting with a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialists provides the best source for treatment options and resources for support. If you have questions about possible endometriosis, treatment or your fertility in general, please contact us today!