Background: Endometriosis (EM) is a recognized co-morbid condition in women with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This analysis evaluates the impact of EM on the health of women with CFS by comparing selected health characteristics and laboratory parameters in women with CFS with and without EM (CFS+EM and CFS-only). Methods: This secondary analysis included all 36 women with CFS from a cross-sectional study of CFS in Wichita, KS, conducted between 2002 and 2003. The health characteristics and laboratory parameters of interest included functioning, fatigue, CFS-related symptoms, gynecologic history, routine laboratory parameters, inflammatory markers, cortisol levels, allostatic load, and sleep parameters (overnight polysomnography). We used parametric or non-parametric tests to compare group differences in the selected health characteristics and laboratory parameters. For examining the association between EM and variables of interest, logistic regression models were performed and odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were reported for the magnitude of associations. Statistical significance was set at 0.05 (two-sided). Results: The mean age of this study sample was 50.9 years. Of women with CFS, 36.1% reported having EM. Age and body mass index (BMI) did not differ between CFS+EM and CFS-only groups. When examining the impact of EM, compared to women with CFS-only, women with both CFS and EM were more likely to report chronic pelvic pain [OR = 9.00 (95% CI, 1.47-55.25)] and hysterectomy [OR = 10.3 (1.82-58.39)], had more CFS symptoms (6.8 ± 0.3 vs. 5.5 ± 0.3, p = 0.02), younger mean age at menopause onset (36.4 ± 3.0 vs. 47.0 ± 2.7 years, p = 0.03), higher mean number of obstructive apnea episodes per hour (20.3 vs. 4.4, p = 0.05) and reported more negative life events (15.8 vs. 4.4, p = 0.05). Other parameters did not differ significantly between the two groups. Conclusions: We found more than a third of women with CFS reported endometriosis as a comorbid condition. The endometriosis comorbidity was associated with chronic pelvic pain, earlier menopause, hysterectomy, and more CFS-related symptoms. However, endometriosis in women with CFS did not appear to further impact functioning, fatigue, inflammatory markers, or other laboratory parameters. Further investigations including younger women are warranted.
Keywords: chronic fatigue syndrome; chronic pelvic pain; cortisol; endometriosis; hysterectomy; inflammatory markers; menopause; sleep.