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Endometriosis and Your Immune System- A surprising link | Treating your Endometriosis

Endometriosis and Your Immune System- A surprising link

Controlling endometriosis with hormone therapy may be a good idea for some women, as the female sex hormone estrogen certainly fuels endometriosis symptoms.   That being said, some research is also suggesting that estrogen may not be the only problem.  Some theories suggest that due to the fact that certain changes can be present in the immune system cells in endometriosis sufferers, endometriosis may be caused by a malfunctioning immune system.

Almost all women experience retrograde menstruation.  This is when endometrial tissue moves backwards into the abdomen via the fallopian tubes during menstruation.  However, despite this fact, usually less than 10% of menstruating women develop endometriosis.  This has lead many researchers to believe the theory that endometriosis is actually caused by a faulty immune system that allows endometriosis to develop outside the uterus following retrograde menstruation.

Those who think a malfunctioning immune system may be the cause of endometriosis, believe that the immune system fails to detect and eliminate endometrial tissue developing outside the uterus.  Unlike the immune system of the average women - which finds and destroys the endometrial tissue caused by retrograde menstruation - the immune system of women with endometriosis appears to be less active, and even defective, when it comes to the removal of these cells.

Researchers are not exactly sure why this happens.  Some believe that women with endometriosis have an insufficient amount of NK (natural killer) cells, which are the part of the immune system responsible for detecting foreign invaders.  Without these NK cells, the immune system is weakened and may not be able to stop or recognize endometrial tissue, allowing it to invade and develop.

Others believe that the immune system of endometriosis sufferers may already be overwhelmed in dealing with other problems such as allergies or infections.  Still, some think that perhaps the burden of actually fighting the development of endometriosis, overstresses the immune system making it less effective in managing the disorder. 

Certain research is also considering the link between autoimmune disorders and endometriosis.  Autoimmune disorders are a malfunctioning of the immune system that causes the body to attack its own tissue.  Recent studies have revealed that immune system disorders are more common among women with endometriosis than those without the condition.

Researchers are discovering through studies that women with endometriosis are more likely to have:
• Fibromyalgia – Chronic pain in the soft tissue (muscles, ligaments and tendons)
• Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Feeling constantly fatigued for more than 6 months without ceasing.
• Endocrine diseases – disorder that affect the glandular tissue, such as hypothyroidism.
• Atopic diseases – conditions such as asthma, allergies or eczema.

Most of these disorders, in one way or another, result from unknown causes that appear to be in someway linked to the malfunctioning of the immune system.  It is also interesting to note, that like endometriosis, they are often genetic.

Additionally, researchers have also found that women with endometriosis seem to be at a higher risk for developing autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, and multiple sclerosis.

Medical and scientific research in regards to the link between faulty immune systems and endometriosis, continue to be looked into.  Only time will reveal the true nature of the disorder.

For information on the cause of endometriosis or for details about treating endometriosis symptoms naturally, please visit Treating Your Endometriosis and sign up for a free newsletter.

8 Responses

  1. liz bruen
    February 22nd, 2007 | 6:53 pm

    have you any references for this immune suppression please?

  2. February 22nd, 2007 | 8:15 pm

    Here’s a link to a report which examines the link between exposure to organochlorine chemicals and the increasing prevalence of endometriosis.

  3. Bernadette
    February 23rd, 2007 | 5:22 am

    If my daughter is using Mirena and does not have a cycle, can she use Endo Ex. Please let me know. Thanks very much.

  4. Laura
    March 1st, 2007 | 4:58 am

    I am hypersensitive ++ to most medications and have severe endometriosis and adenomyosis. Is this a kind of autoimmune response?

  5. March 1st, 2007 | 8:02 pm

    Hi Laura
    Your best bet would be to speak to your doctor. Adenomyosis is different to endometriosis (as I’m sure you know!), so the cause of these two conditions could be unrelated.
    Best wishes

  6. March 4th, 2007 | 8:16 pm

    Bernadette, I wrote to the Endo-Ex suppliers and this is the reply I received:

    “Thank you for your query. Due to the high safety profile of our ingredients, it is perfectly safe to take the mentioned remedy together with Mirena.

    For more information, please go to:

    (you’ll find the link at the top of the page).

    I hope this helps.

  7. luisa
    June 8th, 2007 | 3:54 am

    Hi shelly is it okay to take endoex along with BCP? Because I’m taking the pills it non-stop.

  8. June 8th, 2007 | 8:17 pm

    Lusia - I checked on the Native Remedies site and this statement is in the FAQ section:

    “Endo-Ex will not interfere with prescription medication like painkillers and NSAID’s, nor with hormonal treatment for endometriosis.”

    However, if you wanted to double check yourself you can write to them - they are really good about answering all questions. Click on the link at the top of the page to go to the site.

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