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J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2003 Dec;16(6):337-47.

Endometriosis from thelarche to midteens: pathogenesis and prognosis, prevention and pedagogy.

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  • 1Department of Gynecology-Obstetrics, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York 14086, USA.


John Huffman, a founder of the subspecialty of pediatric and adolescent gynecology in North America, first related the diagnosis of endometriosis to thelarche. Subsequently, endometriosis was diagnosed in early puberty between thelarche and menarche. Based on solid evidence, we suggest that the theory of embryonic mullerian rests be added to currently accepted theories of pathogenesis of endometriosis. This article argues for recognition of embryonic mullerian rests as the pathogenesis of some cases of endometriosis not explained by accepted theories. Along with Huffman, we propose that thelarche be recognized as a developmental benchmark, after which endometriosis is included in the differential diagnosis of chronic pelvic pain. Thus, in an effort to refocus research and patient care to early adolescence, this review is limited to endometriosis occurring in young women from thelarche to their sixteenth birthday. Relating endometriosis to thelarche has fundamental implications for pathogenesis, early diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, education, and long-term care of adolescents.

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