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Sydney Researchers Make World-First Breakthrough Endometriosis Discovery that Could Transform Fertility and Pain Management

Scientists from the Royal Hospital for Women, Sydney have unearthed a host of revolutionary ways to diagnose and treat endometriosis, covering everything from treatment responses to fertility management. This major breakthrough is shaking up everything we know about the disease and its treatment – and we’re here with all the details. 

For the 1 in 9 Australian women living with endometriosis, these new scientific revelations could revolutionise the way they manage their pain, along with significantly slashing their diagnosis wait time. The team of researchers managed to grow tissue from every known form of endometriosis, (yep, you read that right  every kind!)  allowing them to understand and note the response of cells and tissue to a range of treatments. This means that patients will be able to undergo more specialised treatment rather than a one-size-fits-all approach that leaves many with side effects like infertility, not to mention the cases where treatment fails to alleviate symptoms, leaving women in debilitating pain.

On that note, this development also promises to determine whether infertility treatment will be necessary, allowing women to plan in advance rather than being saddled with the stress of figuring everything out as it comes. This breakthrough also means that doctors will be able to more accurately diagnose the differing kinds of endometriosis.

Let’s take a look at the impressive shortlist of advances this research promises to achieve:

  • More accurate diagnoses
  • The ability to determine whether a woman will have fertility issues in the future
  • The ability to compare and test how tissue responds to different treatment
  • Predicitons on how aggressive a patient’s form of the disease will be

Endometriosis is a chronic condition that involves the growth of cells similar to those found in the uterus’ lining start to grow in other areas of the pelvis – this can include the bowel, bladder and ovaries. Though the cause of the condition hasn’t been pinned down yet, there are a number of contributing factors associated with endometriosis. Those who have a family history of the disorder are particularly at risk, with research clocking that increased risk in at around 10 times higher than the rest of the population. Take a look at the most common contributing factors.

  • Genetics
  • Being a twin
  • Having a history of heavy periods
  • Having a history of periods that last longer than five days
  • Having one's first period before the age of 11
  • Low body fat
  • Alcoholism

And it’s not just Australia that’s got soaring rates of the disease – research suggests around 10–15% of women around the globe may have endometriosis, significantly reducing their quality of life. Unfortunately, it can take between 4 and 11 years for people to receive their diagnosis, with up to 6 in 10 cases left undiagnosed. 

This becomes all the more damaging when we consider the effects the condition can have on a person’s overall health, social life and career. When it comes to the latter,  research shows that women with the condition often feel unsupported at work, with one study finding a whopping 1 in 6 women with endometriosis have had to leave a job to manage debilitating pain, while the majority of women in the study revealed the condition had a significant impact on their working life. The researchers noted that the transition to working from home for many office workers during the pandemic lockdowns saw the majority of women with the condition’s work experience drastically improve. That’s what makes this development so pivotal – it could drastically change the way patients can manage their pain, with a tailored approach to their specific type of endometriosis. As we mentioned above, it can also change the way women manage their fertility, allowing for advance notice of any issues that may arise. And with the research showing that around 30-50% of women with the condition will have difficulties conceiving, it makes that notice all the more beneficial for those who are looking to have children.

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