Getting physically and sexually abused as a child may increase the risk of endometriosis -- a gynaecological disorder characterized by chronic pelvic pain and painful periods -- during adulthood, a new study suggests.
The study suggested that women reporting severe chronic abuse of multiple types had 79 % increased risk of laparoscopically-confirmed endometriosis.
"Both physical and sexual abuse were associated with endometriosis risk, with abuse severity, chronicity, and accumulation of types of abuse each associated with increasing risk in a dose-response manner," said lead author Holly R. Harris from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.
"A growing body of literature suggests that early traumatic experiences affect production of stress hormones and inflammatory responses, and these contribute to chronic pelvic pain and other pain syndromes," Harris added.
For the study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, the researchers collected data from 60,595 women between 1989 to 2013.
The researchers found that more than 3,000 cases of laparoscopically-confirmed endometriosis were diagnosed during 24 years of follow-up.
It was also found that 21 per cent of all women reported having experienced some level of both child/adolescent physical and sexual abuse.
"Our findings suggest that similar mechanisms may be involved in the association between early abuse and endometriosis diagnosed during adulthood. We need an increased focus on the potential underlying biological mechanisms to fully understand these relationships," Harris said.
"This study adds to the growing evidence that abuse during childhood/adolescence is not rare and can have multiple consequences for lifelong health and well-being," he noted.