New Link to Infertility Found

Lack of certain molecules in some women with endometriosis causes problems

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FRIDAY, June 27, 2003 (HealthDayNews) --A possible cause of infertility in some women with endometriosis has been identified by researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The finding appears in the July issue of Endocrinology.

The study found some women who are infertile as a result of endometriosis lack molecules in their uterus that let the embryo attach to the uterine wall. Because the embryo can't do that, a pregnancy can't become established.

The researchers also report that a number of genes present in the uteri of women with endometriosis appear to be functioning inappropriately. Many of those genes identified in the study had not been shown previously to contribute to endometriosis and the infertility that often accompanies the condition.

Endometriosis is a major cause of infertility, occurring in 35 percent to 50 percent of women who have difficulty becoming pregnant.

"The causes of endometriosis and of the infertility that's associated with it have eluded scientists for many years," Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, says in a news release. "This study provides a better understanding of this disease, and may lead to new therapies to treat women who have the disorder."

In women with endometriosis, the endometrial tissue that normally lines the uterus begins growing in other areas within a woman's abdomen -- on the fallopian tubes, the outside of the uterus, the ovaries or the intestines. Endometriosis, which often causes pelvic pain, affects 10 percent to 15 percent of women of reproductive age.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about endometriosis.

SOURCE: National Institutes of Health, news release, June 17, 2003

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