You’re experiencing symptoms you’ve never felt before.
Your period is becoming more painful.
As a teen, you never experienced the nausea, pain, and discomfort you’re now dealing with.
You’ve been searching the internet based on your symptoms, and you’re scratching your head asking, “Can you develop endometriosis later in life?”
Endometriosis is a tricky condition that often goes undiagnosed for years, with little to no symptoms appearing as it develops. And while little research is available regarding the development of endo later in life, there is much to be said about developing symptoms.
Continue reading as we answer common questions about endometriosis, how it’s diagnosed, and what you can do to manage endometriosis symptoms as you age.
Table of Contents
- What Is the Average Age for an Endometriosis Diagnosis?
- Can Endometriosis Occur at Any Age?
- Can You Get Endometriosis Later in Life?
- Developing Endometriosis After Menopause — Is It Possible?
- 4 Factors That May Contribute To Developing Endometriosis Later in Life
- Can Endometriosis Appear Suddenly?
- How Is Endometriosis Diagnosed Later in Life?
- How To Manage Endometriosis Later in Life
- How Chiavaye Can Help Relieve Endometriosis Symptoms at Any Age
What Is the Average Age for an Endometriosis Diagnosis?
Because many reproductive issues and conditions have similar symptoms as endometriosis, it can take years to diagnose.
Providers typically perform numerous tests to rule out any other possibilities and conditions before performing surgery to diagnose the condition.
Because of this, most women are between the ages of 25 and 35 before they are diagnosed with endometriosis.
Can Endometriosis Occur at Any Age?
Endometriosis can occur at any point in a woman’s life after menstruation has started but is less likely to occur during or after menopause.
It generally affects women from the ages of 15 - 44 years old.
Can You Get Endometriosis Later in Life?
Though uncommon, it is possible to develop endometriosis — or symptoms of endometriosis — later in life.
Whether you’re at your peak of adulthood — which, according to research, means our brains hit adulthood around 25 — or you’re hitting pre-or-post menopause, you can be affected by endometriosis.
Symptoms can exist perpetually and erratically or follow a pattern and cycle, but most symptoms are period-related.
This means that many women’s endometriosis symptoms lessen greatly after menopause.
However, before and even after menopause, your ovaries produce estrogen, which can lead to persistent endo symptoms.
Let’s dive a little more into what endometriosis looks like for women throughout their reproductive years and beyond.
Endometriosis in Your Teenage Years
Although teenagers can be diagnosed with endometriosis, most cases of endometriosis aren’t diagnosed until adulthood. Nearly 60% of women with endometriosis start experiencing symptoms before the age of twenty.
Diagnosing teenage girls with endometriosis can be challenging. One of the challenges, specifically when diagnosing teenage girls, is the lack of ability to compare menstrual pain over the years.
What do I mean?
Say a teenage girl is dealing with severe pelvic pain during her period. She has only recently started menstruating and thinks severe pain is normal. Because she never mentions it to someone who may be able to help her distinguish period pain from something more serious, it can take longer for endo to be diagnosed.
Endometriosis in Adulthood
Nearly 6.5 million women in the United States are living with endometriosis, with 11% of those women being between 25 and 40 years old.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that these women only developed endometriosis during that time. Diagnosing endometriosis can be a long and challenging process — one that can only be confirmed through surgery.
So, while a woman may only experience symptoms later in adulthood, endometriosis could have started developing at an earlier age.
Symptoms of endometriosis in adult women are very similar to those dealt with during adolescence.
While some symptoms become more prevalent with age, they generally involve:
- Excessive bleeding during periods
- Painful periods
- Pain with intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
- Bloating; and
Endometriosis During or After Pregnancy
It is uncommon for women to develop endometriosis during pregnancy. And oftentimes, those diagnosed with endo report that their symptoms lessen while pregnant.
Hormonal changes and a lack of menstruation may be to blame.
Occasionally, atypical endometrial lesions can develop during pregnancy.
Although rare, women who have had a cesarean delivery may develop endometrial tissue in the incision site. This happens when tissue grows outside of the walls of the uterus from your abdominal incision.
The number one symptom of endometriosis after a cesarean delivery is pelvic pain.
Another common symptom is the formation of a mass or lump in the surgical scar.
Masses caused by endometriosis may be …
- Discolored; or
… and can vary in size. Some women don’t experience any symptoms associated with the mass at all.
For those women dealing with endometriosis prior to pregnancy, symptoms may subside during pregnancy, but return shortly after giving birth.
Those who regularly breastfeed their infants may also experience a delay in returning symptoms.
Developing Endometriosis After Menopause — Is It Possible?
Menopause comes with plenty of challenges of its own.
From hot flashes to hormonal shifts (and the joys those bring) to potentially painful and difficult sex, menopause is no joke.
But for a percentage of postmenopausal women, endometriosis is also a reality.
This is not the answer you were hoping for.
But just because endometriosis pain after menopause is a possibility, you don't have to resign yourself to an endo pain-riddled retirement.
Developing endometriosis after menopause is rare, only occurring in two to five percent of postmenopausal women.
It is more common in women who have been diagnosed with endometriosis earlier in life.
Postmenopausal women often find out they have endometriosis after seeing a doctor due to some of the following symptoms:
- Increased pelvic pain
- Painful bowel movements or constipation
- Painful urination
But how about the opposite effect? Will endometriosis go away post-menopause?
Not necessarily. If you’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis earlier in life, you may experience fewer symptoms due to the lack of estrogen in your body, but the built-up tissue won’t disappear.
Sometimes, women prescribed hormone replacement therapies find their symptoms are “re-activated.”
4 Factors That May Contribute To Developing Endometriosis
While, for many women, symptoms lessen significantly after menopause, others continue to experience the complications and challenges that endometriosis brings.
For the small percentage of women who develop endo later in life, including after menopause, several things can contribute to it.
#1: Early Menstruation
Starting your period before all your friends may have been even worse than you thought.
If the mortification of opening your sanitary products in the school bathroom wasn't enough, your body decided to begin producing estrogen.
This is a natural occurrence, and estrogen is a key hormone in your body.
But, when exposed to it for too long, your chances of developing endometriosis later in life go up.
When you start your period at a young age (typically younger than 11), your chances of developing endometriosis increase.
#2: Menstrual Cycle Length
Having a menstrual cycle that lasts less than 27 days or periods that last more than seven days, can be a problem.
The more exposure your body has to menses, the higher your chances of developing endo become.
#3: Having a Close Relative With Endometriosis
You’ve got your mama’s eyes and your daddy’s nose.
But did you know that you could have your grandma or aunt’s endometriosis?
Having a close female relative with endo can make you more likely to also experience it.
#4: Menses Not Leaving Your Body Naturally
The planet Mercury isn't the only thing that goes into retrograde.
While slightly different, retrograde menstrual flow is thought to be one of the causes of endometriosis.
Retrograde menstrual flow is when your menses flow backward, through your fallopian tubes, to different parts of your body, such as your pelvis.
This dispersal of endometrial cells can cause endometriosis to grow.
Can Endometriosis Appear Suddenly?
Endometriosis takes years to develop, but symptoms may suddenly pop up at any point in a woman’s life.
This could be shortly after they’ve started their period or years after menopause.
Listen to your body if you’re dealing with early signs of endometriosis, like:
- Severe abdominal cramping
- Pelvic pain that worsens during a period
- Heavy periods
- Nausea and vomiting regularly
- Pain/cramping during or after intercourse
- Bowel disorders; or
- Chronic fatigue
Talk with your physician to begin determining the cause and proper course of action to begin treatment.
How Is Endometriosis Diagnosed Later in Life?
Endometriosis can be extremely difficult to see on imaging tests, though cysts forming due to menopause may be present on an ultrasound.
Because of the inability to see endometriosis through imaging, surgery is required to make a proper diagnosis.
To diagnose endometriosis, your surgeon will perform a laparoscopy. This minimally invasive procedure involves inserting a small camera into a woman’s abdomen to look for any evidence of endometriosis.
Why Does Endometriosis Take So Long To Diagnose?
Endometriosis can take years to diagnose for several reasons, including:
- The similarities between endo and other conditions
- Girls beginning birth control during teenage or early adult years
- Lack of education about endo and what’s “normal” during menstruation; and
- Healthcare providers or loved ones dismissing symptoms of endo
One of the biggest reasons endometriosis takes so long to diagnose is due to surgery being required.
Surgeries can take weeks, even months, to schedule and prepare for and often require a significant waiting period.
Can Endometriosis Cause Problems Later in Life?
Treating endometriosis, even if it has developed later in life, is important. Some research suggests that the condition may spread throughout the abdomen and even obstruct the urinary or bowel tracts.
If left untreated, menopause can raise your risk of cancer in areas where endometrial tissue has grown.
How To Manage Endometriosis Later in Life
The Endometriosis Diet
Just as no two women’s endometriosis experiences are the same, no two women have the same dietary needs.
But there are some basic guidelines that can help you on your endo journey. Certain foods actually encourage the proliferation, or growth, of the uterine lining. Making changes to what you eat may actually improve your symptoms.
An endometriosis diet focuses on reducing inflammation by eating foods that are:
- Dairy-free; and
Women suffering with endometriosis should also consider reducing consumption of:
- Processed foods; and
- Saturated and trans fats
You’ve heard all your life that exercise is important.
Maybe you're a fitness fanatic. Or maybe your version of cardio is a rom-com marathon.
Either way, a little light cardio or some restoring yoga can help you find the balance and relief you are looking for.
Exercise helps to reduce the amount of estrogen in your body, which, in turn, helps to decrease your risk of developing endo. If you already battle endometriosis, exercise is a great weapon to help alleviate endometriosis symptoms.
When you experience pain from endometriosis symptoms, the muscles in your ...
- Anterior pelvic floor
- Hip flexors; and
- Abdominal wall
… tend to tense up as a reaction to the pain. This is one of your body’s natural defense mechanisms, but it can add to the difficulty of your symptoms if you don't stretch the muscles back out again.
Yoga and Pilates routines can help to reverse these negative effects and offer some relief.
But the benefits of exercise on your endometriosis don’t stop there.
Exercise can also prompt the release of endorphins, which help you manage pain, discomfort, and stress while improving your sense of well-being while dealing with endometriosis.
If you’re not an exercise guru or are intimidated about finding the right types of workouts to help you find relief, you can find some of my favorite endo exercise resources here.
Talk to Your Doctor
You don’t have to deal with endometriosis symptoms alone. Whether you’ve developed endometriosis early in life or you’re dealing with symptoms later in life, never be afraid to talk to your healthcare professionals.
And if one doctor doesn’t listen, don’t be afraid to ask to see another.
Your doctor can help you determine the best treatment option.
Some physicians believe that the best option for treating menopause later in life is to remove the areas of endometrial tissue surgically. This reduces the risk that the tissue could become cancerous or continue to cause problems.
If surgery isn’t an option, your doctor may discuss non-surgical options, including:
- Progesterone treatments
- NSAIDs to reduce inflammation; and
- Aromatase inhibitors to block any estrogen production
How Chiavaye Can Help Relieve Endometriosis Symptoms at Any Age
Living with endometriosis is difficult, no matter how old or young you are.
Trust me, I know.
But, even with endometriosis, you can live a fulfilling life — especially with Chiavaye here to help.
From providing you with free information on diet and exercise to helping you find a community of support, I am here to remind you that you are not alone and that you are not stuck.
I even channeled my own struggle and found an innovative solution for vaginal dryness and painful sex — a fully food-grade, vegan personal moisturizer and lubricant that helps relieve dryness and some discomfort associated with endometriosis.
You don’t have to struggle alone silently. I know the struggle, and I am here to walk through it with you.