SAN DIEGO, CA Endometriosis is a poorly understood condition that incapacitates and affects the productivity and lifestyle of millions of women around the world. In the US, it affects approximately six million women and adolescents at a cost of some $1.6 billion per year. It is a chronic painful disease which occurs when endometrial tissue grows as lesions outside the uterus, mainly in the area of the ovaries and fallopian tubes, but can also affect the intestinal tract. The condition results in chronic pelvic pain, painful menstrual periods and pain during intercourse.
Many patients report suffering from high levels of stress due to the impact that painful symptoms have on all aspects of their life, including work, family and personal relationships. For example, the physical pain they experience during intercourse can disrupt a healthy sexual relationship, thus causing anguish and discord which leads to further stress.
Circumstantial evidence suggests that a variety of stress management techniques can help women handle stressful situations related to the disease. However, it is not yet known whether stress affects the prevalence or progression of the disease.
A new study investigating the relationship between stress and the painful symptoms of the disease is currently underway. It offers, for the first time, evidence of the negative consequences of stress in the progression of endometriosis, most likely through an effect on the immune system.
Presentation at the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society
The study was conducted by an interdisciplinary team of investigators with expertise in endometriosis, animal physiology and behavior. Marielly Cuevas, Olga I. Santiago, Kenira J. Thompson and Caroline B. Appleyard, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Ponce School of Medicine, Ponce, Puerto Rico, and Idhaliz Flores of the Department of Microbiology. Dr. Appleyard and her gradua
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American Physiological Society