Living with endometriosis can be a challenging and painful journey — Sometimes it may feel like there’s no end in sight for your symptoms. The quest for answers and effective solutions is a priority for many women, including myself. While the exact cause of this condition is still a mystery to us, recent research is shedding light on an intriguing link between bacterial infections and endometriosis.
As someone who personally battles endometriosis and is dedicated to helping other women in their fight against this condition, I am constantly on the lookout for new research on its causes and possible treatment solutions.
In this blog, we’ll explore what the recent research is saying about the connection between bacterial infections and endometriosis, and how it may pave the way for better pain management and relief! Together we’ll navigate the nitty-gritty and empower ourselves with the knowledge to put an end to endometriosis.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis affects millions of women worldwide, and most commonly affects women between the ages of 25-40. It is a condition in which cells similar to the lining of the lining of the uterus (or endometrium) grow outside of the uterus.
To put it simply, endometrial-like tissue loves to rebel. The body has rules in place, to help all systems function optimally, but endometrial tissue prefers to grow on their own terms — where they want, when they want.
Endometriosis cells act the same way as the lining of your uterus does. They thicken, break down, and bleed with each menstrual cycle even though they are outside of the uterus. This can induce severe pain and inflammation in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and the pelvis — and not to mention, seriously impact the ability to simply live your life!
Many women with endometriosis commonly experience symptoms such as:
- Severe pain that can even begin before your period starts.
- Very heavy bleeding
- Pain with sex, urination or bowel movements
- Fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nausea, etc.
- Infertility down the road
What Causes Endometriosis?
There are many theories around WHY endometriosis occurs, but the exact cause of endometriosis is still unknown. However, if we look at the risk factors and at those at highest risk to develop endometriosis, we commonly see that hormone imbalances, genetic factors, and immune system dysfunction increase the odds of developing endometriosis.
The Usual Microbial Suspects
As I mentioned in my Gut Health and Brain Fog blog, our gut microbiome is hugely important for regulating our hormone production, stress response, and immune system. Having healthy levels of good bacteria in the gut can reduce our risk of infection or inflammation, and improve our overall immune system response.
When we have an overabundance of bad bacteria in our GI tract, this can produce a lot of inflammation. This imbalance, aka dysbiosis, can increase intestinal permeability, allowing metabolites to compromise our circulatory system and stress our immune system.
In a 2021 study, which explores the complex connections between bacteria, inflammation, and endometriosis, research suggests that disruptions in our gut microbiome and inflammation caused by dysbiosis, may actually contribute to the development of endometriosis. Researchers found that when endometriosis is present, certain harmful bacteria become more common, while beneficial ones like Lactobacillus decrease. It also suggests that changes in our immune system may contribute to the development of this condition.
All this to say that when we’re seeking treatment, it’s SO important to work with a provider who looks at the whole picture and understands the interconnected intricacies of our gut, immune system, and hormones!
When Germs and Endo Collide
New research is suggesting that bacterial infections could be a cause of endometriosis. In an article published by New Scientist, researchers sampled endometrial tissue from women with endometriosis, and examined the presence of bacteria within the tissue samples. The study found that women with endometriosis had a higher prevalence of Fusobacterium nucleatum bacteria compared to those without the condition.
Researchers then used a mouse model to isolate F. nucleatum to better understand the role that this bacteria plays in developing endometriosis. Mice that received infected uterine samples had lesions that were 5 times as large as the control group of mice, suggesting that this strain of bacteria encourages the growth of endometrial lesions.
While this study alone detected one specific strain of bacteria, researchers aim to continue studying this phenomenon to determine whether a single pathogen or combination of bacteria are responsible for this increased risk of endometriosis.
Befriending Bacteria and Ending Endometriosis
While more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between bacterial imbalances and endometriosis, it is exciting (as a provider and as someone living with this condition) to know that scientists are continuing to seek solutions. Further research could potentially pave the road for new treatment strategies (perhaps utilizing antibiotics to combat bacterial infections or probiotics to keep unwanted bacteria at bay) to help effectively manage or prevent endometriosis!
Friend, I hope these new findings help to shed some light on some potential solutions to your symptom picture. At ISAIH Natural Medicine, it’s our goal to continue educating our female patients so that they are equipped with the tools to trust their gut, hone their hormones, and put an end to their endometriosis. If you’re looking for extra guidance and support along your personal health journey, consider becoming a patient with us today!