The factors that predispose one-tenth of reproductive-aged women to endometriosis are poorly understood. However, in a recent study titled “Seminal Plasma Promotes Lesion Development in a Xenograft Model of Endometriosis” published in the The American Journal of Pathology, a team of researchers from the School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, University of Adelaide in Australia found that endometrial exposure to seminal plasma could contribute to endometriotic disease progression in women.
Results from the study suggest that seminal plasma enhances the formation of endometriosis-like lesion via a direct effect on endometrial cell survival and proliferation.
“In laboratory studies, our research found that seminal fluid (a major component of semen) enhances the survival and growth of endometriosis lesions,” said in a recent news release Dr. Jonathan McGuane, co-lead author and researcher at the University’s Robinson Research Institute.
Associate Professor Louise Hull, mentioned that the causes underlying endometriosis remain poorly understood, along with the best methods to efficiently prevent and treat the condition; however, these recent findings add more knowledge on different factors that can worsen the disease.
“Endometriosis, when tissue that normally grows inside a women’s uterus grows outside the uterus, affects one in ten reproductive-aged women. The condition’s symptoms vary but include painful periods, pelvic pain and women with endometriosis may have difficulty conceiving,” said Professor Hull.
“This is an important finding and raises the possibility that exposure of the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) to seminal fluid may contribute to the progression of the disease in women,” she added in the news release.
According to the researchers more studies are necessary to understand what is the relationship between sexual activity and endometriosis.
“The next stage of the research will look at what this means for women with and without endometriosis,” said Professor Hull. “We now need to apply these laboratory findings to real life and determine whether the exposure of seminal fluid that occurs naturally during intercourse puts women at increased risk of developing endometriosis. And if modifications to sexual activity could lower the severity of the disease in women with endometriosis,” she concluded.