What Is Endometrial Hyperplasia?

Endometrial hyperplasia is an abnormal thickening of the lining of the uterus, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The condition usually develops during menopause and perimenopause when ovulation is irregular or absent. It can also occur in women affected by polycystic ovary syndrome or obesity.

Risk factors for endometrial hyperplasia include early menstruation, cigarette smoking, late-onset menopause, absence of pregnancy and Caucasian race, in addition to a history of diabetes, gallbladder disease or thyroid disease. Symptoms of the condition include menopausal bleeding, a menstrual cycle of less than 21 days and pre-menopausal bleeding that is longer or heavier than normal, reports the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG.

The tests and procedures used to diagnose endometrial hyperplasia include transvaginal ultrasound, dilation and curettage, endometrial biopsy and hysteroscopy, according to ACOG. Classification of the disease is either simple or complex, with an additional classification of atypical applied when certain cell changes are present.

Because endometrial hyperplasia is caused by the presence of estrogen accompanied by a lack of progestin, the use of medications that act as estrogens in the body, or the long-term use of estrogen replacement therapy after menopause, increase the risk of developing the condition, states ACOG. Doctors prescribe progestin in addition to estrogen replacement therapy to postmenopausal women affected by or at risk of developing the condition.