Cure for Endometriosis
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: March 2023 | Last updated: April 2023
Being cured from a condition can have varying definitions, ranging from complete elimination of the condition and all of its related signs and symptoms, to treatment options that only relieve symptoms in hopes of restoring an individual's health. The most commonly accepted of these varying definitions involves eradicating the condition completely. In the case of endometriosis, this would mean the removal, shrinkage, or medically-induced elimination of all endometriosis lesions. In theory, this would then have a positive effect on endometriosis-related symptoms such as pain, fertility complications, fatigue, bladder and bowel-related issues, abnormal menstrual-related problems.
Beyond directly treating and relieving symptoms, a cure addresses and eradicates the underlying condition and its related processes. As an example, assisting a woman in getting pregnant who previously had endometriosis-related fertility struggles (by utilizing a method like in vitro fertilization) alleviates a complication of the underlying condition, however, the endometriosis is still present and can continue to cause other symptoms. In this situation, the woman would not be considered cured, only a condition-related symptom would be treated. Other endometriosis-related symptoms may be alleviated or treated in a similar manner, however, this is not a true cure.1
Currently, there is no definitive cure that exists for endometriosis. Endometriosis lesions can be removed surgically, or a woman can undergo a total hysterectomy in attempts to remove endometriosis lesions and slow future lesion growth. While this may improve symptoms and lead to the removal of several lesions or endometriosis-related cysts at once, the condition is not cured. More specifically, the root cause of the development of the condition has not been addressed.
Although the exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, many of the theorized causes exist on a cellular or genetic level, as well as within the immune system or the hormonal regulation process. By removing endometrial implants and adhesions within the reproductive system, a few of these potential causes may be impacted, especially causes related to hormonal regulation, however, the majority of potential causes have not been fully handled. Put differently, the body's genetic make-up, immune system, cellular composition, and other potential endometriosis lesion-causing factors have not been changed at all. Although several lesions may have been removed, along with some of the structures that new lesions may affect next, the underlying potential causes of the condition have not been addressed. Endometriosis lesions may still return as these processes continue to be at work within the body, meaning the condition has not been cured.
In order to truly cure endometriosis, treatment options need to be developed that impact the root cause, or causes, of the condition.1 Fortunately, treatment options aimed at curing endometriosis are currently under investigation, and many leading experts in the field are actively performing research aimed at better understanding these ideas.2 Examples of some of the current research ongoing now include the following:
- Research into a new cell type called endometrial stromal fibroblasts (eSF) that is thought to be critical in the development of endometriosis
- Research into the genetic inheritance of endometriosis and the effect of microRNAs (molecules that affect the way genes are expressed) on genes potentially related to endometriosis development
- Research into the inhibition of prostaglandin E (PGE) receptors within the body to block pathways that involve PGE, as well as treatment options that may affect or block key elements within pathways thought to be related to endometriosis development
- Research into things an individual may be exposed to while they're developing in their mother's womb that could cause endometriosis later in life3
This is not an exhaustive list of all ongoing research related to finding a cure for endometriosis, as many organizations, research institutes, and national initiatives are working diligently to learn more about endometriosis and how it functions and develops.