Is there a link between Endometriosis and sexual abuse?

purple ribbon - child abuse

**UPDATE: 2/4/16 : Please read https://bloominuterus.com/2016/02/04/my-two-cents-sexual-abuse-and-endometriosis/ for my research results

Time to get a bit personal with you…

I was molested by my grandfather for years as a young child.  My parents divorced when I was six.  I told my Mum when I was 8 and she literally uprooted our small family and moved us out of state, which caused a huge rift between my father’s side of the family and our family.  And I love her deeply for that.  I always will.

Last year Mum mentioned reading (or hearing about) a possible connection between childhood sexual abuse and Endometriosis.  I rolled my eyes, stated I didn’t want to give that man any additional power over my life, didn’t want to blame him for my disease, and dismissed it as crazy-talk. (I’m sorry, Mom…I know you’re reading this…).

At one of our recent support group meetings, the topic came up again.  Someone else had recently read a similar claim.  Which prompted one of our other women to say she had heard it, too.

Last night it was my pleasure to enjoy dinner with one of my local EndoSisters.  After hours of bonding, I brought up my sexual molestation.  I was saddened to hear that she was also abused as a child.  And she mentioned that there’s a book that discusses the possible link between sexual abuse and Endometriosis.  Which had me regurgitate my Mum’s conversation from last year…and the subsequent conversations with EndoSisters from our support group.

So guess what now?  I’ll be thoroughly digging into the scientific, medical, and laymen literature available on this topic.  I will find out what those communities are saying the links may be : stress, inflammatory reaction, hormones, defense mechanisms?

If you have read about this, please leave a comment with the source information so I can also read about it.  A quick Google search has brought up nearly a dozen studies on the topic, all of which I need to take my time and read.  And clear my head.  And breathe.

And I’m curious if the ratios of women with Endometriosis (1 in 10 women) and childhood sexual abuse trauma (1 in 5 girls; 1 in 20 boys – National Center for Victims of Crime) are so tightly-woven that they are possibly purely coincidental.  That there is no cause and effect relationship; but just a coincidence.

And I’m equally curious : what are the chances that you, an EndoSister, was sexually abused, too?  I do not ask this question to rip off scabs and expose old wounds…but I am flabbergasted at the amount of women in my personal life, with this illness, who have stepped forward and shared their traumatic experiences.  We are now stronger than our abusers.

I will be digging.  And I will be ripping my heart out and laying it flat open, filleted, for this one.  Interested? Stay tuned.  Want to share an experience?  Comment below.  We are in this together, on so many levels…

**UPDATE: 2/4/16 : Please read https://bloominuterus.com/2016/02/04/my-two-cents-sexual-abuse-and-endometriosis/ for my research results

Yours,

Lisa

 

32 thoughts on “Is there a link between Endometriosis and sexual abuse?

  1. You are an amazing woman, Lisa. Words don’t describe how I feel while reading this blog. And I love this statement: We are now stronger than our abusers. Thank you for everything, and I mean everything. Especially for the way you are changing people’s lives. Not only are you strengthening your EndoSisters, but you are affecting the lives of their partners and families. I am so proud…

    On Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 12:17 PM, Bloomin Uterus wrote:

    > Bloomin’ Uterus posted: ” Time to get a bit personal with you… I was > molested by my grandfather for years as a young child. My parents divorced > when I was six. I told my Mum when I was 8 and she literally uprooted our > small family and moved us out of state, which caused a h” >

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your mother is my hero, too. I do not have endometriosis, but I have adenomyosis and the question of a possible link between it and childhood sexual abuse has also crossed my mind. I will check back to see what you find. Best wishes on your journey. A.

    Like

  3. I was raped as a teenager, about a year after my endo symptoms started. Most of the scientific literature I’ve read about endo and trauma correlating has to do with the stress creating a somatoform disorder, or making an existing one worse (here’s an article from 1998 that says as much: http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Abstract/1988/04000/The_Association_Between_Chronic_Pelvic_Pain,.16.aspx ).

    I’m not a doctor, but I’m in a Master’s program for psychology. Stress can absolutely have an effect on how one experiences pain, and it’s almost always for the better. I think the fact that so many women are raped or sexually abused in childhood in our nation and the 1 in 10 rate of endometriosis sufferers are so high that it simply overlaps (correlation doesn’t always equal causation!).

    I also know that a lot of doctors think that endometriosis is ONLY a somatoform disorder, and that it’s in essence “caused” by our abusive pasts. Don’t get me wrong: somatoform disorders do exist, and are absolutely horrible tangles of mental and physical pain that should be taken every bit as seriously as endometriosis. However, whenever doctors hear that we have endometriosis and their first thought is “therapy” and not any of the now well known and accepted medical treatments (i.e., excision surgery), that’s flat out dangerous. And it’s all too common – Dr. Drew did it within recent memory. http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/dr-drew

    So, my answer is that I do think there’s more of a genetic link causing endometriosis than anything else, or even the theory that it’s linked to autoimmune disorders that’s starting to gain some traction. Stress can make the pain worse, for sure, and stress from past abuse can do that too, but I don’t think it’s the cause.

    Sorry to go on for so long – a gyne once flat out refused to see me once he heard I’d been raped and had endo because it wasn’t a “medical diagnosis”, and that I “needed a shrink”. In his mind, the PTSD I suffer from zeroed out the endo I have and made it somehow “not real” and not as important. In everything I’ve read, stress from anything (including and not limited to past sexual abuse) can exacerbate endo, but pretty much nothing in the last 15 years has indicated it could be the cause. I think it’s simply an older viewpoint that’s been disproven but is still kicking around because some doctors don’t keep up to date on endo.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for opening up so deeply here. I’m with you. I know stress can affect our bodies in so many ways, and there are studies that show it can aggravate our Endometriosis. I also think it’s not the cause, but possibly a factor. I ran across Dr. Drew’s … absolutely horrible … comments today. I wanted to crawl through my computer screen and strangle him and that other host. Thank you for pointing me down a path. I look forward to burying myself in text, theories, studies, experiences, and examples over the next several days. I’m hoping to bump across some more recent info rather than the decades-old theories.

      Do not be sorry for the lengthy response. It’s awesome. I’m sorry you ran into some douchebag doctors out there. Chaps my hide…

      You’re one hell of a survivor, hun.

      Like

  4. This is the first I’ve heard of this study, and I just want to thank you for your courage and for writing this post. I was also abused when I was young, and have also developed Endometriosis, and (speculated) Adenomyosis. What you wrote has inspired me to do some research of my own.

    Like

  5. I don’t have scientific research but I too suffered sexual abuse as a child. This is something I will now be looking into as this is the first time hearing it. But it makes so much sense. 💕

    Like

  6. I was not abused as a child but definitely while I was married. The first period after the abuse was excruciating. I couldn’t move an inch while laying down without getting light headed from the pain. Standing up was almost impossible. Going to the bathroom was suddenly very very painful. After I left it took about 6 months but gradually my periods became less painful. Four years later and there are times when I am very stressed that my period are severe. I hope this isn’t too long. I don’t really talk about this. I just want to know if anyone has or still does experience this.

    Thank you,
    Ren

    Like

    1. Hi Ren. It wasn’t too long, not at all. And thank you for opening up. In my line of work, I’ve seen a lot of clients require pelvic floor therapy or even a regimen of kegel exercises after a traumatic sexual event. Their body, subconsciously, is freezing up, tensing, and actually causing the muscles to weaken and/or contract involuntarily. It can be a defense mechanism. And I’ve heard the pain is intense. The body reacts amazingly under stress. You may want to talk to your gyno or PCP, and let them know what’s been going on. It may be something as simple as doing kegels (20 contractions for 2 seconds each, is what I’ve often done), or they may refer you to pelvic floor therapy, assuming an exam leads them to believe your body/muscles have reacted adversely that that (or any) experience. Talking about it is the first step. And I’m so proud of you for doing it.

      Like

  7. Thank you so much for your kind words and advice. Typing out my experience was difficult but your reply was very healing. It was just what I needed. I have a gyno visit soon and I will make sure to bring this up with her.

    Thank you,

    Ren

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello, I’m new to this post, but I’ve suffered from endometriosis for 20 years thus far. I also was sexually abused all before the age of 9. I only recollected the memory of it about 15 years ago and it has left me so sad. I don’t like to talk about it. I also lived in a violent home, both physically and verbal. I was bullied badly in school as well. It is the cards of life that I was handed. Thank God I have the best husband in the world and three great children. But my in laws always cause me some type of emotional stress and my dad too and I have noticed that when my stress and saddness flares up so does my endo pains. Sometimes it makes me feel hopeless and alone. Doctors don’t understand…Fighting everyday to stay strong with lots of prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stay strong, Jess. And, yes, stress may affect Endo flare-ups. Try to find time for you, especially when you’re having particular stressful or sad times. Talk to your wonderful husband about it, too. And know that you’re not alone. We’re all here for ya. ❤

      Like

  9. Hi,
    I have been wondering this FOR YEARS. Every woman I know with Endo is also an abuse survivor. I just googled this because I also read that Marilyn Munroe survived both endometriosis and sexual abuse at a young age. There is evidence that menstruation helps keep unwanted bacteria out of a woman’s reproductive organs, but if foreign objects come in contact or near enough is it possible that unwanted bacteria creates a kind of hospitable environment for Endo? I am only asking questions–not a doctor or scientist. But would really welcome more on this issue. Thanks for this post. All love and brightest blessings surround you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There have been studies that semen may aggravate Endo, based on inflammatory properties, but I haven’t read anything about bacteria. I can do some research. I know that some people believe the chemicals and toxins found in tampons may aggravate Endometriosis. I do know that bacteria may cause or influence vaginal infections, such as UTIs or yeast infections, but I haven’t bumped into anything suggesting foreign bacteria may cause or aggravate. I’ll dig. 😉

      Like

  10. I have suffered from stage 4 Endometriosis for 20 years. I am now 34, and unable to have children due to this horrible disease. My loving husband and I have endured 7 heart wrenching miscarriages. I too was molested as a toddler from my grandfather and raped by my father for several years as a young child. I am just now hearing about the link between endo and abuse. I find it very fascinating.

    Like

    1. *big hugs* to you, hun. There’s more science coming out that childhood trauma even changes the way our brain functions, which may lead to long-term chronic issues. But who really knows…?

      Like

      1. I suffered a lot of childhood trauma including being sodimized among other abuse and I am in my mid forties now and can feel like it has and is affecting me more and more. I think I suppressed it for so long that I no longer can push it down. My endo has gotten a lot worse and stress and emotional baggage does not help.

        Like

        1. oh Jess, I’m so sorry. 😦 When I was a kid, my Mum sent me to a child therapist. I hated those sessions, so much. But one thing she taught me to do when things got too much, or when I happened upon an emotional trigger, was to imagine my favorite hero (it was Mighty Mouse) and when I found myself in a flashback, Mighty Mouse would fly into view, and hold up a big hand for me to stop. And do you know what? After doing it for a while, it actually began to work. And now I don’t have any triggers. Hopefully something like that can help you overcome. Let it out…don’t let it eat you from the inside out.

          Like

  11. Hello,

    I really appreciate this site. For the sake of full disclosure, I am on this site as a writer/researcher and not as a survivor. I respect everyone here and am amazed by the courage and willingness to share. I didn’t understand endometriosis until I met a few women who walked me through their journeys. Again, very grateful and humbled by the courage.

    I wanted to expand on my previous comment/question. As I understand it: when illness develops in our body, viruses or bacteria enter our bodies and *if* our immune systems are not strong enough, the viruses or bacteria sneak by and make us sick.

    In 1993, “[t]he scientist, Margie Profet of the University of California at Berkeley, suggests that menstruation evolved as a mechanism for protecting a female’s uterus and Fallopian tubes against harmful microbes delivered by incoming sperm.” http://www.nytimes.com/1993/09/21/science/radical-new-view-of-role-of-menstruation.html?pagewanted=all

    I havn’t stopped thinking about this study for 23 years. I always wondered what microbes would mean for someone who wasn’t yet menstruating. So I guess, when I posted my previous comment/question–I wondered if any science had followed up with this question.

    It doesn’t seem like to much of a stretch to pose the following two questions to the scientific community:

    1) Does trauma weaken the immune system?
    2) Can the microbes delivered by incoming sperm cause endometriosis?

    I really welcome any thoughts or links.

    ~Ariane

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I got diagnosed two weeks ago and I came across an article that suggested that the two were related.i was abused by my step dad and it’s horrible to think that after all these years he can still affect my life in horrible ways

    Like

    1. *smoosh hugs* from one victim to another. I refuse to gibpve my grandfather any further power over my life. He can rot in hell. I simply cannot accept that my childhood abuse caused my Endo…no…I refuse to allow it. ❤ wishing you strength and courage. And I'm here if you ever need to talk. Lisa

      Like

  13. Thanks so much LISA.dont know if it’s the extra hormones I’m getting pumped with right now that’s making me emotional but just feel everything is getting on top of me right now 😦

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s