Can You Get Endometriosis in Your 50s? A Guide to Endometriosis in the Menopause Years

You just crested fifty. 

Congratulations!

Welcome to your golden years.

As a seasoned woman, you’ve been through it all; from puberty, to pregnancy (if that is the path you chose), to menopause, you’ve become familiar with the changes that womanhood brings. 

But, contrary to your expectations as a post-menopausal woman, you’re experiencing some symptoms you didn’t expect this long after child-bearing years. 

Perhaps you’ve dealt with endometriosis in the past or, perhaps, this is all new. Either way, you’re beginning to wonder...

Can you have endometriosis after menopause? 

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about endometriosis after menopause, as well as some things you can do now to lessen your risk.

Table of Contents

What Is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a health challenge faced by approximately 11% of all women.

It occurs when endometrial-like tissue (similar to the stuff that your uterus is made of) grows outside the uterus instead of staying inside, where it belongs. 

Endometriosis can be found in many places such as:

  • The tissue that keeps the uterus in its place
  • The fallopian tubes
  • The ovaries
  • The outside of the uterus

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis manifests itself in all sorts of ways

Every woman who battles endometriosis symptoms faces unique challenges, but there are some symptoms that are common such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Vaginal pain
  • Rectal pain
  • Abnormal, heavy, and irregular menstruation
  • Painful periods
  • Infertility

Endo sisters know this list personally, and we can share first-hand how difficult it is. Endometriosis is often associated with women in their twenties through early forties, but what about older women?

Can you still have endometriosis pain after menopause? 

That is a great question and, luckily, I have the answer.

Can an Older Woman Get Endometriosis?

Women can begin feeling the effects of endometriosis as early as adolescence or symptoms may wait until adulthood to appear. Once-in-a-blue-moon, symptoms can emerge after menopause and can exist perpetually and erratically, or follow a pattern and cycle.  

Endometriosis has strong ties to menstrual cycles and many endo symptoms are period-related

This means that many women’s endometriosis symptoms lessen greatly after menopause.

However, even after menopause, your ovaries continue to produce estrogen which can lead to persistent endo symptoms.

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 2%-5% of postmenopausal women, endometriosis is also a reality. 

I know.

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

Later in this article, we will discuss some ways to reduce your chances of developing endometriosis after menopause, as well as how to minimize the symptoms. 

But the pressing question remains...

Can You Have Endometriosis After Menopause? 4 Factors That May Contribute

Endometriosis pain after menopause is, unfortunately, a very real possibility.

While, for many women, symptoms lessen significantly after menopause, some continue to experience the complications and challenges that endometriosis brings. 

There is even a very small percentage of women who can contract endo after menopause. 

There are several things that can contribute to the development of endometriosis after menopause.

 #1 Early Menstruation

Starting your period before all your friends may have been even worse than you thought.

In case 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 you are 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 7 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 7-10 times 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 leading 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.

When to Talk With Your Doctor About Your Endometriosis Concerns

As a woman, you already know that some discomfort during your period is normal. 

You know your favorite ice cream flavor and where your trusty heating pad is stored. 

But, as your body shifts and changes in preparation for the post-menopause years, you will begin to experience different menopausal symptoms. As your menstrual cycle becomes a thing of the past, your cramps should, too. 

But, for the 2%-5% of women who develop endometriosis symptoms after menopause, the pain can hang around. 

If you are experiencing symptoms that are not a normal part of menopause, that could be a sign that something more nefarious is lurking below the surface. This is a sure sign that it is time to make an appointment with your doctor. 

Endo symptoms should be addressed quickly and by a caring professional.

Do Symptoms of Endometriosis Typically Disappear After Menopause?

For some women, along with the end of their menstrual periods, comes the end of  endometriosis symptoms. 

After menopause, the body slows the production of estrogen and this can greatly reduce, if not eliminate, endometriosis pain. 

Unfortunately, this is not the case for every woman

There are several factors that can contribute to the continuation of endo symptoms following menopause such as:

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy: HRT helps women who have hormonal imbalances and many menopausal women find it helps to decrease the symptoms of menopause. But supplementing the body's supply of estrogen can cause endo symptoms to persist, even after menopause. 
  • The severity of your symptoms prior to menopause
  • How long you have battled endometriosis 

If you are still experiencing difficult symptoms into your golden menopausal years, surgery might be your best option.

How to Reduce Your Chances of Developing Endometriosis in Your 50s

While you cannot ever prevent endo, there are ways to decrease your chances of developing unmanageable symptoms.

From changing your diet to implementing some endo-friendly exercise routines, there are plenty of natural ways to love your body and help it function at its best.

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. 

The main focus of the endometriosis diet is to reduce inflammation by eating foods that are:

  • Soy-Free
  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Anti-inflammatory

Exercise

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 do a ton to 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
  • 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. 

You can find some of my favorite endo exercise resources here.

How Chiavaye Can Help Relieve Endometriosis Symptoms at Any Age

Living with endometriosis is difficult

Trust me, I know.

But it is not impossible

Even with endometriosis, you can have a fulfilling life and my company, Chaivaye, is 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

I know the struggle, and I am here to walk through it with you.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published