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The Facts About Endometrial Cancer

Find out how endometrial cancer affects your sexual health.

A person holds a model of the female reproductive system in one hand while pointing to part of it with a pen in the other hand.


The womb is the part of a woman's reproductive system that holds and protects a baby during pregnancy. The endometrium is the lining of the womb, and endometrial cancer is cancer of the lining of the womb, or uterus.

According to the American Cancer Society, it is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs. In the United States, there will be an estimated 65,950 new cases of endometrial cancers and uterine sarcomas in 2022.


The most common sign of endometrial cancer is abnormal bleeding from the vagina. This might present as:

  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Heavy periods (those that are unusual for you)
  • A change in vaginal discharge (pink, watery, foul-smelling or dark)

Remember, most of the time, irregular vaginal bleeding is not due to cancer, but it's always safest to get it checked out.

Less common symptoms are blood in your urine, high blood sugar levels, pain during sex, anemia, pain in your pelvis and lower back, thrombocytosis and a lump in your pelvic area.

How curable is endometrial cancer?

Approximately 9 out of 10 womb cancers are found due to irregular bleeding or bleeding after menopause, often leading to an early diagnosis. Survival rates for endometrial cancer are relatively good, especially if your doctor picks up the diagnosis early.

Uterine cancer is more common and has lower survival rates in Black women. The American Society of Clinical Oncology reports the five-year survival rate for white and Black women with endometrial cancer in the U.S. is 84 percent and 63 percent, respectively.

However, as with every type of cancer, survival depends on the stage of your endometrial cancer and individual factors. General survival rate statistics are based on large populations of people and can't tell you about your specific situation.

How endometrial cancer occurs

Anyone with a womb can get endometrial cancer. People with wombs include women, transgender people, nonbinary people and intersex people. You cannot get endometrial cancer if you have had a hysterectomy, which is the surgical removal of the womb.

You are at higher risk of getting endometrial cancer if you have high levels of estrogen, which could be due to the following:

  • Late menopause (after age 55)
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Never giving birth
  • Certain types of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Being overweight or obese


If you notice any abnormal vaginal bleeding or other symptoms of endometrial cancer, you first must see your primary healthcare provider. Inform them about your symptoms, when they started, what you are experiencing, and your medical and family history. Doctors are used to discussing intimate problems, so there is no need to be embarrassed.

Depending on your symptoms and discussion with your doctor, they might refer you for one or more of these tests:

  • A transvaginal scan (scan of your womb)
  • Blood tests
  • A biopsy where cells from the lining of your womb are removed to be analyzed further
  • Other scans, such as a CT or PET-CT, an MRI or an X-ray of your chest, abdomen and pelvic areas

Depending on your initial conversation and test results, your doctor might refer you to a cancer specialist to manage your diagnosis and any ongoing treatment.


Your treatment depends on:

  • The type of endometrial cancer you have
  • The stage and grade of the cancer
  • Where the cancer is and if it has spread
  • The size of the cancer
  • Tests that check for changes in the genes
  • Your general health

The primary treatment is surgery to remove your uterus, cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Other common treatments include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy or a combination of these. The treatment is individual to you and the type of endometrial cancer you have. Your doctor explains all your treatment options at each stage.


Your cancer care team advises you on follow-up care after treatment. The type of aftercare you need depends on your treatment plan and how your body responds to the treatment.

It helps to have a lot of support from family and friends around you. You can also ask your cancer care team about local support groups and places where you can access help and advice.


To help lower your risk of endometrial cancer, you can:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Ensure you get regular exercise
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet 
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Quit smoking
  • Ask your healthcare provider about contraception that may lower your chance of getting endometrial cancer
  • Ask your healthcare provider about which hormone replacement therapy is best and safest for you

How endometrial cancer affects sexual health

All types of reproductive cancers, including endometrial cancer, can impact your sexuality physically and emotionally. Living with uterine cancer and undergoing treatment can cause:

  • Low libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Pain during sex
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in body image
  • Changes in how you feel about sex

It's vital to give yourself time to get used to any changes. Try to be open and honest with your partner so they can understand what you are experiencing and support you.

Sex doesn't have to be about penetration or orgasm; you can explore many ways to be close and have a positive, intimate relationship. Be kind to yourself. You can also reach out to a counselor for support if you find sexuality changes challenging to manage.

When to see a doctor

It's always better to see a doctor sooner rather than later if you are worried about endometrial cancer. The sooner it is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Make sure to see your healthcare provider if:

  • You have irregular vaginal bleeding
  • You experience bleeding after menopause
  • You have symptoms of pain when passing urine
  • There is pain during sex
  • You feel a lump in your pelvic area
  • There are changes to your vaginal discharge
  • Your periods become abnormally heavy (which is different for you)