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Iuds, ?? m p ? n s and exercise as possible factors increasing risk of endometriosis IUDs, ?? M P ? N S AND EXERCISE AS POSSIBLE FACTORS INCREASING RISK OF ENDOMETRIOSIS
It has often been assumed that use of an IUD (intrauterine device) would be associated with an increased risk of developing endometriosis because IUDs increase the menstrual blood flow by 50% to 100%. This presumes that the amount of retrograde menstruation is also greater. The studies so far have produced no clear evidence of the role of IUDs in the development of endometriosis.
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Opinions differ widely as to whether or not the use of tampons affects a woman's likelihood of developing endometriosis. Some believe that tampons act as a barrier to the vaginal menstrual flow which thereby promotes retrograde menstruation. Others believe that tampons act as a wick which promotes the vaginal menstrual flow and thereby reduces the amount of retrograde menstruation. There is also the belief that tampons have no effect on the vaginal menstrual flow.
The only two studies published to-date have found no evidence to suggest that the use of tampons leads to an increased risk of developing endometriosis.
One study has found that women who exercised regularly were less likely to develop endometriosis. This effect was limited to women who had begun regular exercise before the age of 26 and who exercised for more than two hours per week; the effect was most marked in women who engaged in vigorous exercise such as jogging or aerobics.
It is thought that this protective effect is due to the fact that regular vigorous exercise usually lowers the oestrogen levels in the body which in turn reduces the amount of oestrogen available for the growth of the endometrial implants.
Association with other diseases
For many years there has been some speculation by doctors that women with endometriosis have a higher incidence of other chronic health problems, particularly allergic conditions, such as hay fever and eczema, and auto-immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Unfortunately, only a couple of small studies investigating this topic have been published to-date: they found that women with endometriosis had a higher incidence of yeast infections and allergic conditions, particularly food sensitivities and hay fever, but were unable to show an association of endometriosis with any auto-immune diseases - probably due to the limited number of women involved.
Interestingly, these studies also found that more women with endometriosis reported that they had suffered from glandular fever.
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