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One in 10 women suffers from endometriosis, making it highly likely that you know someone who has it.
Endometriosis is a chronic and incurable gynaecologic disease with no known cause. The disease’s symptoms are debilitating and include chronic pelvic pain, excessive bleeding and severely painful periods and pain during intercourse. Once dismissed as "period pain" the disease is becoming widely recognised thanks to further research and a spate of celebrities, including Girl's creator [Lena Dunham](http://www.nowtolove.com.au/celebrity/celeb-news/lena-dunham-joins-the-body-positive-selfie-wave-4746 |target="_blank"), actress [Susan Sarandon](http://www.nowtolove.com.au/beauty/ageing/susan-sarandon-beauty-ageing-advice-37864 |target="_blank") and Australian Olympic gold-medalist Emily Seebohm, who continue to publicly share their experiences with endometriosis.
Still, there is so little known about the disease that affects [176 million women worldwide](https://www.endometriosisaustralia.org/research |target="_blank"), so when a new study announces that breastfeeding may lower the risk of an endometriosis diagnoses, we’re all ears.
Investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital found that women who breastfed for longer periods of time had significantly lower risk of being diagnosed with endometriosis.
"Given the chronic nature of endometriosis and that very few modifiable risk factors are currently known, breastfeeding may be an important modifiable behaviour to reduce the risk of endometriosis among women after pregnancy," said the lead author, Leslie V. Farland, a research scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Researchers studied 72,394 women who had had one or more pregnancies. There were 3,296 diagnoses of endometriosis among them.
Compared with women who breastfed for less than a month per pregnancy, those who breastfed for a year or more had a 32 percent reduced risk of being diagnosed with endometriosis. For each additional three months of breastfeeding, they reduced their risk by 8 percent.
“Our finding builds on what we already know about breastfeeding — that it’s very beneficial for both the child and the mother,” said Farland.
The researchers hope that future research will discover whether breastfeeding could help lessen the symptoms of endometriosis among women who have already been diagnosed.