"This is the first study undertaken to investigate the association between endometriosis and inflammatory bowel disease," Jess said. "Persisting abdominal symptoms in patients with endometriosis may be a sign of concomitant inflammatory bowel disease," she said.
One expert said the finding should be taken seriously.
"If you have endometriosis first, this may lead to having an increased risk of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's," said Dr. Maurice Cerulli, the program director of gastroenterology at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y. While more research is needed before any definitive conclusions can be drawn, Cerulli said that doctors should consider both endometriosis and inflammatory bowel disease when a woman has abdominal symptoms and pain. "Both conditions are treated differently," he said.
While the study found an association between endometriosis and inflammatory bowel disease, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Visit the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America to find out more about inflammatory bowel disease.
SOURCES: Tine Jess, M.D., MPH, epidemiologist, Statens Serum Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark; Maurice Cerulli, M.D., program director of gastroenterology, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; Dec. 19, 2011, Gut online
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