The Latest Developments in Endometriosis Research Explained

It’s no secret that endometriosis affects millions of women in Australia. Endometriosis impacts their ability to work, participate in school, engage in sporting activities, and above all, their emotional wellbeing. Furthermore, getting an accurate diagnosis may take up to seven years for some women. Much of this is due to the limited research into the disease, but that’s not to say we haven’t made advances in understanding the disease. For this reason, we wanted to explain the latest developments in endometriosis. Armed with information, women can have more in-depth discussions with their doctors and get the answers they need. 

The Trouble with Research into Endometriosis

The trouble with endometriosis research is that despite its prevalence, there is a social stigma regarding infertility, painful sex, and heavy period pain that has been normalised. As a result, not enough research has been conducted; but times are changing. Doctors are becoming more aware of the fact that it can be debilitating for some women. As a result, we are beginning to understand more about the disease. To combat endometriosis, the National Action Plan for Endometriosis has already committed $22.50 million has been committed to endometriosis research, awareness, and care throughout Australia. 

What Are the Latest Developments in Endometriosis Research?

As time has passed, doctors have begun to heed the call of women for better care and an earlier diagnosis of endometriosis. Naturally, this has sparked more research into the condition.

My team has been granted a $2 million MRFF grant – this collaboration with University of Adelaide is called IMAGENDO. We are developing artificial intelligence to interpret ultrasound and MRI for endometriosis patients.

What we know about endometriosis so far:

Retrograde menstruation – retrograde menstruation(where the menstrual tissue flows back through the fallopian tubes) is common in women diagnosed with endometriosis. This tissue may also travel to ectopic sites through the lymphatic and blood channels, similar to cancer. 

Diet and lifestyle can affect endometriosis –based on small studies; there is some evidence to support the theory that diet may play a role in dealing with endometriosis. These limited studies have given rise to the belief that health supplements, fruit and vegetables, and a gluten-free diet may lower the risk and ease the symptoms of endometriosis.

Endometriomas can infiltrate non-reproductive organs – the lesions and adhesions caused by endometriosis are typically found in the reproductive organs as well as the bowel, rectum, and bladder. However, these lesions can spread throughout the body, making them more challenging to treat. 

The presence of oestrogen – research has shown that endometriosis is oestrogen dependent. Endometriosis isn’t seen before menstruation, and its symptoms ease after menopause as it appears to atrophy when oestrogen levels are low. 

The link between endometriosis and infertility – roughly half of women experiencing infertility are diagnosed with endometriosis. This is typically due to dense scarring and adhesions, which affect the reproductive organs. 

The link between endometriosis and cancer – researchers have found that women with endometriosis have a 50% higher risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. The altered inflammatory response of endometriosis may explain the link.

OMNI’s approach to endometriosis starts with using ultrasound as a diagnostic tool. This innovative approach has been designed to better understand the location of the endometrial lesions to treat them. If you need medical assistance to treat and/or diagnose endometriosis, get in touch with OMNI for high-quality, expert gynaecological care.

OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care

Condous performs Advanced Endosurgery procedures for women needing intervention for pelvic masses, adnexal pathology, severe endometriosis or hysterectomy. He also runs ‘Hands on’ Live Sheep Laparoscopic Workshops for gynaecologists at Camden Veterinarian School.
Having completed an undergraduate degree with the University of Adelaide, he left Australia in 1993 and moved to London where he completed his training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. From 2001 to 2003 Condous worked as a Senior Research Fellow at St George’s Hospital, London. At St George’s he set up the Acute Gynaecology Unit, the first in the United Kingdom. It was also during this time that he developed an interest in Early Pregnancy and especially the management of pregnancies of unknown location (PULs). Condous has developed many mathematical models for the prediction of outcome of PULs which have been featured in numerous peer review journals. In 2005, he returned to Australia where he completed his Laparoscopic Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Reproductive Endosurgery, Royal North Shore, Sydney.

Condous was appointed as a Consultant Gynaecologist and Senior Lecturer at Nepean Hospital in 2006 and soon was made Associate Professor. In 2010, he was made Departmental Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Nepean Hospital. He obtained the MRCOG in 1999 and was made FRANZCOG in 2005. In 2009, he was awarded his Doctorate in Medicine (MD), University of London, for his thesis entitled: “The management of pregnancies of unknown location and the development of new mathematical models to predict outcome”.

Condous has edited three books including the “Handbook of Early Pregnancy Care”, published over 100 papers in international journals and is internationally renowned for his work in Early Pregnancy. He is the Associate Editor for Gynaecologic Obstetric Investigation, which is a European based journal, as well as the Australasian Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (AJUM). He is on the organising committee and is an invited speaker at the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISUOG) Scientific meeting in Sydney 2013. His current research interests relate to the management of ectopic pregnancy, 1st trimester growth, PULs and miscarriage and the use of transvaginal ultrasound (in particular sonovaginography, to predict posterior compartment deep infiltrating rectovaginal endometriosis).Condous is also actively involved with post-graduate education including the annual running of the Early Pregnancy and Gynaecological Ultrasound Interactive Courses for Sonologists, Radiologists, Sonographers and Gynaecologists in Australia.