Women's Health

Are we Edging Closer to Understanding the Chronic Endometriosis Condition?

Endometriosis can be defined as a gynecological condition which is mainly characterized by severe pain and a heavy flow in period. These symptoms collectively reduce the quality of life. Up till now it is incurable but still needs surgical interventions more often.

Researchers are currently working on this health condition to understand it deeply. Endometriosis is an example of a chronic condition which can affect women and girls of any age before menopause.

Endometrial tissues normally are present in the uterus but in this health condition, the endometrial tissues start growing in other parts of the body for example on the kidneys, on the ovaries, inside the bladder, and on the fallopian tubes.

No one has up till now worked on its clear statistics but this health condition seems to be affecting a large part of the women population.

According to the data given by the Office on Women’s Health, this condition is affecting more than 11% of the women aging between 15 and 44 in America. Despite this significant statistic, research is going slow on this; they do not know the causes behind this health condition.

In most of the cases, the doctor asks the patient to go through surgical interventions on a regular basis in which endometrial tissue grown in other parts of the body is removed as the tissue regrows continuously.

The statistics about how many women have endometriosis is still unclear because doctors find it difficult to diagnose the condition. Symptomatic diagnosis may lead to errors as doctors might mistake the manifestations of endometriosis with other health conditions like the pelvic inflammatory disease. There is a technique of identifying endometriosis-associated cysts by doing an ultrasound but this diagnostic way is still not fully successful either.

To get almost 100% diagnostic results, the patient should go under laparoscopy. In laparoscopy, the doctor carries out a small surgery in which they insert a laparoscope to capture the image inside the body (abdomen). A laparoscope is a simple small device having a microlight and camera.

During this invasive surgery, the tissue samples can also be collected for further analysis in the laboratory.

Working towards the elimination of errors

Researchers from several universities in Estonia and Finland like the University of Tartu and the University of Helsinki are working hard to reach their goal that is to make the diagnosis of endometriosis as precise as possible.

The first study author Merli Saari who has also done Ph.D. said: “Today, the disease is mainly diagnosed surgically. In general, patients have to undergo a laparoscopic procedure in which lesions are surgically removed from the abdominal cavity. Small pieces of this tissue are taken for histological analysis that helps to confirm the diagnosis.”

The findings of the research paper “A molecular tool for menstrual cycle phase dating of endometrial samples in endometriosis transcriptome studies” is published in the journal Biology of Reproduction.

Researchers believe that to know the biomarkers linked with endometriosis it is necessary to understand the gene expression in endometrial tissue. They hope studying and identification of the biomarkers would help in understanding any progress in the chronic condition and its possible causes. This would also help them in the future to address the situation more easily.

According to the research, gene expression following in the endometrial tissues is linked to hormone changes, which continuously fluctuates during the menstrual cycle. There is a possibility of false or inaccurate results if the sample of the endometrial tissue is collected at the wrong stage of the menstrual period.

One step more to find casual changes

In order to carry out detailed research, researchers took samples of endometrial tissues of 80 women. They compared the results of the stage of the woman’s menstrual cycle (estimation) when the samples were collected with the outcomes of minute molecular analysis.

The researchers found that in most of the cases, the data which was provided by women had some inaccuracies as the molecular profile based in the laboratory showed different results for the phases of the menstrual cycle.

The researchers found that in most of the cases, the data which was provided by women had some inaccuracies as the molecular profile based in the laboratory showed different results for the phases of the menstrual cycle.

Saare points out that “Our study helps to precisely determine the phase of the biopsy samples taken from the endometrium.” She further said: “This way, we can avoid examining the endometrium in different phases of the cycle,” which is usually not fruitful.

Although the current research does not reveal such groundbreaking findings, still the researchers have a firm belief that this is not a waste and is a fruitful step in the path for figuring out the causes and factors of the chronic condition, endometriosis.

Merli Saare, Ph.D. said, “All small steps and discoveries take us closer. If our studies become more precise and we are able to eliminate side factors, it is much easier to find causal changes in the disease.”

Adeena Tariq

Adeena's professional life has been mostly in hospital management, while studying international business in college. Of course, she now covers topics for us in health.

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