Endometriosis 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.
Ihas been a poorly understood illness for years incapacitates and affects the productivity and lifestyle of millions of women around the world. Just in the United States alone, endometriosis affects nearly six million teen and adult women at a cost of approximately $1.6 billion annually.
Many women who have endometriosis report having high levels of stress due to trying to deal with the painful symptoms that affects their everyday lives – work, personal relationships and family. There is currently a new study that is investigating the relationship between stress and the painful symptoms of the disease. This will be the first time a study has been done that offers evidence of the negative consequences of stress in the progression of endometriosis, most likely through an effect on the immune system.
The study was conducted on seven female rats who were induced with endometriosis. Half were subjected to stressful swim tests for ten consecutive days, a chronic and stressful situation the animals could not control.
According to the senior researcher for the study, Dr. Appleyardm the study conclusion was:
“These findings contribute to our understanding of how stress may affect the severity of endometriosis. We think there is likely a connection with the immune system because of the observed levels of mast cells in the colon and the increased levels of inflammatory cells in the peritoneum of the affected rats, since this has also been observed in patients with endometriosis. The results offer a jumping off point to help identify stress-management interventions that will help those women who are affected by the disease.