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Study tests potential new drug to reduce pain and symptoms of endometriosis

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Study tests potential new drug to reduce pain and symptoms of Endometriosis

Researchers at the Department of Reproductive Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, are testing a new drug for endometriosis. Endometriosis is a chronic gynecological disease manifested by recurrent pelvic pain and sometimes infertility.

Endometriosis

Pain of Endometriosis

Endometriosis means ectopic endometrial tissue. The endometrium is the tissue lining the uterus that detaches every month during the menstrual cycle. In endometriosis, endometrial tissue is found outside the uterine cavity and is influenced by the same hormonal changes like the endometrium of the uterus. Ectopic endometrial tissue can affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, bladder, peritoneum and other pelvic or abdominal structures. In time adhesions and cysts occur and these may cause pain, infertility etc. Regarding the cause of this disease, there are several theories. One theory is retrograde menstruation, other theories are coelomic metaplasia or vasculogenesis.

Now researchers are recruiting  patients aged between 18 and 49 years to test the efficacy and safety of a new drug called Elagolix. Sanjay Agarwal, MD, director of UC San Diego Health System’s Center for endometriosis Research and Treatment (CERT says that they hope that Elagolix will educe pain in patients with endometriosis by decreasing the estrogen levels but without giving side effects.

Endometriosis can affect any woman of reproductive age. It is estimated that between 6-10% of women suffer from endometriosis. Symptoms of this disease include pelvic pain, dyspareunia (painful sex), dysmenorrhea (cramping during menstruation), urinary disorders, such as dysuria (painful urination). Other symptoms that can occur are constipation and chronic fatigue. Pelvic pain intensity may vary in some cases is unbearable, and in other cases may be mild and may occur not only during the menstrual cycle but in other days of the month. Pain may radiate to the back or abdomen.

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Regarding infertility, it is not  clearly known what is the connection between endometriosis and infertility. Many women with endometriosis fail to conceive and it is assumed that this failure is due to adhesions caused by endometriosis. Others say that endometriosis release some factors that adversely affect gamete or embryo. It is also believed that endometriosis and infertility are caused by a common trigger.

There is no cure for endometriosis up to date. The only solution is menopause, either surgically or naturally. There are some medications that can relieve pain but they interfere with reproductive function of women. An alternative consists of drugs based on progesterone, which counteracts the effect of estrogen to stimulate endometrial growth. Other options consist of oral contraceptives, aromatase inhibitors, GnRH agonists etc.