Causes of Endometriosis

The full picture of the causes of endometriosis is still unknown.

Research spearheaded by the Association since 1992 has shown that environmental toxins such as dioxin and PCBs, which act like hormones in the body and damage the immune system, can cause endometriosis. Dioxins are highly toxic chemicals which come from production and use of pesticides and herbicides; municipal, medical, and hazardous waste incineration; chemical and plastics manufacturing; and pulp and paper production. Dioxins readily concentrate in the food chain, contaminating animals and fish; thus food is the primary source of dioxin exposure for humans.

Additional theories

One theory suggests that endometrial tissue is distributed from the uterus to other parts of the body through the lymph or blood systems.

A genetic theory suggests that certain families have predisposing factors for the disease.

Surgical transplantation has also been cited in many cases where endometriosis is found in abdominal scars, although it has also been found in such scars when accidental implantation seems unlikely.

Another theory suggests that remnants of tissue from when the woman was an embryo may later develop into endo or that some adult tissues retain the ability they had in the embryo stage to transform under certain circumstances.

The retrograde menstruation theory (transtubal migration theory) suggests that during menstruation some of the menstrual tissue backs up through the fallopian tubes, implants in the abdomen, and grows. Some experts believe that all women experience some menstrual tissue backup and that an immune system problem or a hormonal problem allows this tissue to grow in the women who develop endometriosis.