Asian women appear to be more prone to deep infiltrating endometriosis, the serious form of the disease, than their Western counterparts, said a Senior Consultant from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

But it is merely an observation that he hopes to confirm through a prevalence study of the disease. “It’s just a gut feel for now. We’ve already tripled (the number of deep infiltrating endometriosis surgeries) that we did in the UK per year at SGH in 2014,” the Senior Consultant said.

Endometriosis in Singaporean women

In 2013, 12 women underwent robotics-assisted surgery for endometriosis at SGH. In 2014, he treated 41 women at SGH for the same condition, a significantly larger number than the 12 to 15 cases a year that he got on average in the UK, where he had a tertiary referral practice for deep infiltrating endometriosis.

Why asian women are more prone to endometriosis: A possible explanation

Endometriosis appears to run in families in some cases. There is also evidence that Asian women experience higher levels of bleeding than Caucasians when menstruating. “That would imply that retrograde menstruation is likely to be more common,” the Senior Consultant said.

Retrograde menstruation is one of the likeliest explanations for endometriosis. It happens when menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body, and sticks to the walls and surfaces of organs.

Women in Singapore also tend to avoid hormonal contraceptives, unlike European women.

“Among European women, there is a very high percentage of use of oral contraceptives. Contraceptives are a medical treatment for endometriosis. So they are inadvertently protecting themselves against endometriosis while delaying motherhood to pursue their careers. But, the use of hormonal contraception is Singapore is very low,” the Senior Consultant added.

Among the different races in Singapore, Indian women appear to be less prone to endometriosis than Chinese and Malay women.

Ref: Q15