Understanding whether female health conditions are hereditary
Have you ever wondered how big of a role your family’s medical history plays in your own health track record? It may go without saying, but it’s important to have a good sense of your family’s medical history. This is especially true when it comes to women’s health and the question of: Is endometriosis hereditary?
According to the Center for Disease Control, of the 96 percent of Americans who believed knowing their medical history was important, only one-third actually gathered this information. While many understand how important this knowledge is to their own health, they struggle to have this information readily available for their doctor. If you are one of those who knows little about your family medical history, we have some tips to get you started.
Researching your family medical history
When you start to research your family’s medical history, we recommend going back as far as three generations. As a woman, pay close attention for any indicators of female health issues on your mother’s side. Take note of such things as a history of endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome or other specific women’s health concerns. If possible, record the age at which your family member received a diagnosis.
As your research begins to build, watch for warning signs, like an early diagnosis, multiple family members with the same disease and family members with a combination of diseases. Having such knowledge can help you to take control of your own health. By having this information in your back pocket, you can take preventable measures and recognize symptoms of common family issues, which will help in early detection.
We get numerous questions about certain women’s health issues and whether genes play a part. Keep reading to learn more.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs from an abnormal growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. This tissue is shed each month during a woman’s menstruation. When a woman has endometriosis, she may experience the following symptoms:
- Varying degrees of pain or cramping in the pelvic area
- Lower back, buttock or leg pain
- Heavy menstruation
- Bleeding or spotting between menstrual cycles
While these are the most common symptoms of endometriosis, other symptoms can occur. Visit our web page about endometriosis to learn more.
If my mom has endometriosis, will I have it?
When it comes to being informed about endometriosis, knowing if women in your family have a history of endometriosis is especially important. If your grandmother, mother or even sister has been diagnosed with endometriosis, your risk for endometriosis and severe symptoms is much higher. In fact, you’re 5 to 7 times more likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis.
While the exact cause of endometriosis isn’t known, strong evidence suggests that endometriosis is hereditary. Researchers believe you can inherit endometriosis from either the maternal or paternal sides of your family.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS, is a hormonal imbalance that interferes with ovulation. It affects 1 out of 10 women. A woman with PCOS experiences an imbalance of low estrogen and high androgens. Common indicators of PCOS are:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Increased facial and body hair growth
- Male-pattern baldness
- Weight gain
A doctor diagnoses PCOS through a physical exam, pelvic ultrasound, and blood tests. To learn more about PCOS symptoms and treatment, visit our web page.
If my mom has PCOS, will I have it?
Does your mother have PCOS? How about your sister? If you’ve answered yes, then your risk of developing PCOS is 30 percent to 40 percent higher.
Like endometriosis, the cause of PCOS is not known. However, researchers believe there is a genetic link. Not only is a woman with a mother or sister diagnosed with PCOS at greater risk, but she also is at a 40 percent to 50 percent greater risk of developing diabetes.
When reviewing your family medical history, look for diagnoses of PCOS as well as diabetes. Research suggests a woman with diabetes is likely to also have PCOS.
What causes infertility?
A number of things can affect a woman’s fertility. According to the Center for Disease Control, 11 percent of women experience infertility. Fertility issues have been attributed to:
- Tubal factor
- Uterine factor
- Diminished ovarian reserve
Learn more about fertility factors and treatment by visiting our web page about fertility and conception.
If my mom suffered from infertility, will I?
While genetics can play a part in one’s fertility, whether infertility is heredity depends on the issue. If you suffer from endometriosis or PCOS, it’s more likely that condition can lead to infertility. This again highlights the importance of recording your family medical history.
If you’re struggling to get pregnant, speak to your grandmother, mother or sister about her own fertility experience. You may learn that they also went through the same struggles because of underlying health issues.
If your mom or sister suffer from any of these diseases, know you are at an increased risk. If you’ve been wanting to know the answer to “Is endometriosis hereditary?” and other questions, contact us at 920-886-2299 or KaldasCenter.com to begin the discussion about your family medical history and symptoms.