“Endometriosis is a chronic disease with its etiology, at best, poorly understood,” says Nasir Rana, MD, MPH, and co-founder of The Institute for the Treatment and study of Endometriosis, along with W. Paul Dmowski, MD, Ph.D. “By no means should an endometriosis sufferer assume that weight gain will alleviate or cure her symptoms.”
Instead Drs. Rana and Dmowski stress that the current study merely adds another risk factor (low BMI vs. high BMI) into the equation. “We have seen evidence in the past that women of normal and underweight appear to have a higher incidence of Endometriosis,” says Dr. Dmowski. “This study supports this belief.”
The reasons for this are multifactorial, but Drs. Rana and Dmowski attribute part of the cause to the fact that obese women are more likely to have amenorrhea (absence of regular monthly cycles) or oligomenorrhea (fewer cycles) than lower BMI individuals. Studies have shown fewer menstrual cycles may have a beneficial effect on establishment and maintenance of the endometriosis.
Towards a Better Understanding
Endometriosis has long been a disease that evades a cure, all the while causing pain that ranges from mild to debilitating to its sufferers, most of whom are women in their reproductive years, often beginning with the start of menses. Endometriosis can affect a number of systems in the body as well as cause infertility. Widely accepted risk factors include a strong family history of endometriosis, genetic factors, heavy and early menstrual periods, environmental factors such as pollutants, delayed first pregnancy, congenital uterine anomalies or a dysfunctional peritoneal immune surveillance system.
“Interestingly enough, we see no correlation between the amount/stage of the disease and its known symptoms,” says Rana. “The ‘slippery’ nature of the disease makes many assertations as to cause and effect difficult to properly evaluate, including those that surround body weight. But, while the cause remains in question, our work has led us to many forms of treatment, medical and surgical, that can assist patients in returning to a normal, pain free life. We don’t need to know ‘why’ in order to offer this relief to sufferers.
The Institute for the Study and Treatment of Endometriosis Chicago works in conjunction with Reproductive Medicine Institute and conducts extensive research and clinical trials on the disease. The Institute for the Study and Treatment of Endometriosis Chicago treats women at all ages and stages of the disease with both medical and surgical options.