Womens Health

Unprotected Sex Can Worsen Endometriosis

If you thought that condoms were only for young kids and people not in monogamous, long-term relationships, think again. It's true that sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) and stopping pregnancy are two very good reasons to make use of condoms, but there are other important reasons. For instance, new research has just found that unprotected sex may worsen the gynecological condition known as endometriosis.

In the January 2010 issue of the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, an article appeared which reported on the effects of semen on the growth of endometrial tissue. The scientists in this study compared samples from women with endometriosis with those from healthy control subjects and discovered that seminal plasma caused a significant increase in growth in the women who suffered from endometriosis. The growth increased by almost threefold. 

Sex-Induced?

This unusual finding seems to be due to a high concentration of the types of macromolecules that can be found in seminal fluid. The researchers took uterine tissue samples from the women with endometriosis and treated them with a combination of antibodies that are known to encourage chemical blockers to these macromolecules. The result was that the semen-induced growth could be suppressed. This discovery suggests that in the natural state of things, women with endometriosis are susceptible to sex-induced flare-ups, from exposure to seminal fluid. This was not true of those women in the healthy control group, in which no extra tissue growth occurred as a response to contact with seminal fluid. 

The researchers also found that the macromolecules, especially prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) were in much higher concentrations in men's seminal fluid than in the abdominal fluid or blood of women, whether or not the women had endometriosis.

While doctors still don't know what causes endometriosis, this study shows that contact with seminal fluid may trigger worsening signs and symptoms of the disease. The study was, however, quite small, including only 18 fertile men, 20 healthy women control subjects, and 45 endometriosis patients. In order for these results to be more persuasive, a much larger study needs to be done with more diversity among the study participants.

Easy And Inexpensive

Until such work is performed, women with endometriosis may wish to insist their men use condoms. It's possible that in this manner, they can cut back on the severe menstrual pain and heavy bleeding that accompanies the abnormal extra tissue growth that accompanies a case of endometriosis. The beauty of this solution is that it is both easy to perform and inexpensive, something we don't see too often in medical care.

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