Endometriosis breakthrough: A common treatment could be making it worse

Endometriosis is a painful condition that 5-15% of women suffer with.

There’s currently no cure for endometriosis and while there are treatments available for managing symptoms, many have limited effectiveness.

However, new research may have found a way to help women with this debilitating disease…

What Is Your Period Trying To Tell You?What Is Your Period Trying To Tell You?

New research finds common endometriosis treatment could be making it worse

Every month a woman creates a new endometrial tissue lining in her uterus, which, if she does not fall pregnant in that month, is shed during menstruation (her period).

Those with endometriosis also make tissue OUTSIDE of the uterus that is similar to the tissue formed inside the uterus.

It’s most commonly found in the ovary, it is can also be found in fallopian tubes, cervix, vagina, bowel, and bladder and is EXTREMELY painful.

‘Nociceptive pain’ and ‘neuropathic pain’

Nociceptive pain is a type of pain caused by damage to body tissue and current endometriosis treatments focus on targeting this type of pain. Although many of these treatments contain painkillers.

Now, experts believe those suffering from neuropathic (chronic) pain may have damage to the nerves inside and outside of the uterus, which doesn’t respond well to painkillers like ibuprofen.

And this can be seen in the research, as experts at the University of Oxford found that 40% of women with endometriosis don’t respond to ‘nociceptive pain‘ relief.

Tissue growing outside the uterus has new nerves in them and these nerves could be more sensitive, causing a different kind of pain.

What’s more, diagnosing endometriosis is often done through laparoscopy (a small incision through the belly button and inserting a camera) and this may involve cutting through nerves.

endometriosis and fertility

The study…

Scientists conducted an online survey of 1,417 people with endometriosis, who had been diagnosed by laparoscopic surgery.

Those with chronic pain experienced greater pain during their period, throughout their menstrual cycle and during sex. They also had greater anxiety, depression and fatigue.

Interestingly, the more abdominal surgeries a person had, the more likely they were to have neuropathic pain.

Surgery isn’t just used to diagnose endometriosis, it can also cut or burn away endometriotic lesions.

Looking into new treatments

It’s important to note that while researchers have found a link between surgery and neuropathic pain, they can’t tell what’s causing it and whether repeated surgeries are helpful or harmful.

“There are many different mechanisms that can cause pain in endometriosis, and the different types of pain will respond to different types of treatment,” says Katy Vincent, a professor at Oxford University.

“Surgery is a very important tool in treating endometriosis – but we need to better understand when and how it should be used as part of a more personalised treatment plan.

“Patients whose symptoms are caused primarily by neuropathic pain are less likely to benefit from surgery, and could even experience more pain following surgery.”

period pain

It seems, medical professionals need to find new ways to to determine which patients are more likely to respond to surgery or not. 

Going forward. medical professionals may also need to potentially explore other screening procedures to diagnose the condition.

How endometriosis can affect your weight

Red meat linked to higher risk of endometriosis

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is an oestrogen dominant condition that causes layers of tissue, that normally covers the inside of the uterus, to grow elsewhere. Endometriosis affects ALL aspects of a woman’s life.

Not only can endometriosis cause significant pain and lead to or be linked to emotional and mental conditions, it can also cause bloating and excess fat on the hips and stomach regions.

The condition can also cause bloating and water retention, making it harder for you to feel like you are reaching your goal weight.

endometriosis and fertility

What are the symptoms?

  • Painful periods
  • Pain before period
  • Pain during ovulation
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain during and after sex
  • Pain with bowel movements
  • Pain when having a wee
  • Abnormal bleeding, like super heavy periods, or spotting.

For more information on treatment options for endometriosis read this Healthy Mummy article Endometriosis: What Is It And How Does It Affect Fertility?

For additional advice and help, head to Endometriosis Australia’s website.

 

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