Endometriosis is a disease that affects the female reproductive system due to the development of endomentrium, the tissue that normally lines inside the uterus, growing outside the uterus. The tissue is normally denominated as endometrial patches, implants, nodules, or lesions, and it usually occurs in the pelvic cavity, including on or under the ovaries, on the fallopian tubes, behind the uterus, on the tissues that hold the uterus in place, on the bowels or bladder, and in rare cases, on the lungs or in other parts of the body.
Pain and infertility are the two primary symptoms of endometriosis, but other common symptoms may also occur. These include painful, even debilitating, menstrual cramps, which may get worse over time, pain during or after sex, pain in the intestine or lower abdomen, painful bowel movements or painful urination during menstrual periods, heavy menstrual periods, premenstrual spotting or bleeding between periods, painful bladder syndrome, digestive or gastrointestinal symptoms similar to a bowel disorder, as well as fatigue, tiredness, or lack of energy.
Endometriosis Cure & Treatments
There is currently no endometriosis cure, though there are treatments available address the symptoms of the disease. To treat endometriosis, physicians may opt for pain medications, hormone therapy, surgical treatment, or a combination of treatments, while infertility associated with endometriosis is usually addressed through surgery or in vitro fertilization (IVF). The definition of a treatment plan for patients with endometriosis takes into consideration patients’ age, severity of the symptoms, severity of the disease, and whether women still want to have children or not. Despite the fact that scientists haven’t yet found a cure for endometriosis, numerous research projects are focused on improving the treatment of endometriosis and finding a cure.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the main public institution in the country focused on finding an endometriosis cure. “NICHD research on endometriosis aims to understand the causes of and mechanisms for the condition, to identify and develop effective ways to treat pain and infertility related to endometriosis, and even to find ways to prevent it from growing in the first place. These studies involve multiple NICHD organizational units and multiple disciplines, with the overarching goal of improving the quality of life for women who have the disorder and their families,” states the institute.
Efforts to Find an Endometriosis Cure
The NICHD supports research on endometriosis mostly through its Fertility and Infertility (FI) Branch and Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch, but also through other extramural organizational units. During the past years, these efforts have resulted in some discoveries in the field. These include the discovery of genetics as risk factor for endometriosis and importance of microRNAs (miRNAs) as regulators of gene expression. Researchers from the Program in Reproductive and Adult Endocrinology (PRAE), who are focused on developing more efficient treatments for endometriosis symptoms, discovered that women with endometriosis had a higher prevalence of recurrent upper respiratory or vaginal infections, melanoma, and ovarian cancer than the general population.
In addition, other institutions are advancing efforts to find a cure for endometriosis. Investigators at the National Centers for Translational Research in Reproduction and Infertility (NCTRI) found that statins-drugs, which are often prescribed to lower cholesterol, are efficient in easing the symptoms of endometriosis. The NICHD also remembers that “in 2013, the World Endometriosis Society Montpellier Consortium published the first-ever worldwide consensus statement on the management of endometriosis. The statement, published in the journal Human Reproduction, addresses 69 issues related to the management of endometriosis. NICHD scientists and grantees were among those on the Consortium.”
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.