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The Latest Developments in Endometriosis Research Explained

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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.

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