24 Mar Endometriosis Awareness Month: Research on Promising Treatments
Endometriosis Awareness takes place during the month of March (and beyond here at FSMG) with a mission to raise awareness of a devastating disease affecting an estimated 200 million women worldwide.
Endometriosis is a common condition that occurs when tissue from the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside the uterus on other organs and tissues in the pelvis and abdomen.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), endometriosis may be found in 24-50 percent of women experiencing infertility and in more than 20 percent of those who have chronic pelvic pain.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue of the uterine lining grows elsewhere in the body. Pelvic pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis, but some women with the condition may also experience infertility.
Individuals with endometriosis may not have any symptoms or experience symptoms of chronic pelvic pain, severe menstrual cramps, painful intercourse, or infertility. This often causes very painful, heavy periods that may worsen over time as well as chronic lower back or pelvic pain.
Endometriosis may also trigger:
- spotting or bleeding between periods
- pain when going to the bathroom or during sex
Endometriosis: How Does it Develop?
Researchers are still trying to uncover the precise reason for which endometriosis occurs. According to research, it is likely to occur when tissues shed during menstruation flow out of the fallopian tubes into the pelvis.
Endometriotic growths may develop due to elevated levels of hormones and immune cells, such as prostaglandins, cytokines, and estrogen, and a reduced response to the hormone progesterone. There is also a theory that it may also be due to an immune system issue that means it does not find or destroy growths that characterize endometriosis.
Endometriosis is also more common in people with ovarian or breast cancer.
Promising Treatments for Endometriosis
A new 2021 clinical trial is currently underway to evaluate whether dichloroacetate (DCA) could be an effective, non-contraceptive treatment for endometriosis. There is also growing evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids may help treat endometriosis by restoring imbalances in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that may cause endometriosis symptoms.
Furthermore, researchers are testing noninvasive therapies to see if they can lessen endometriosis symptoms, in particular with physical therapy. In a 2021 study, pelvic floor physiotherapy reduced pain during intercourse, chronic pelvic pain, and improved pelvic relaxation in women with endometriosis.
Nanomedicine is also being tested to determine if it could be useful for treating and diagnosing endometriosis.
While there is no cure for this disorder, symptoms can be managed surgically or with medication, both of which may increase the chance of pregnancy . Over-the-counter pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, may help manage endometriosis pain.
Patients most commonly take the form of birth control pills, progestin-only medications, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) medications. Currently, our FSMG fertility specialists use assisted reproductive technologies like ovarian suppression, ovarian stimulation, intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) to enhance the ability to conceive in women with endometriosis-related infertility.