Southampton researchers have found new insight into why women suffering from endometriosis have difficulty falling pregnant— giving new hope to those struggling to conceive.
In order to become pregnant, a woman must produce a mature egg. Maturation occurs in fluid-filled structures called follicles in the ovary. The mature eggs are then released to become fertilised, however, eggs in women who have endometriosis are affected by a very hostile uterine environment that lowers fertility. It is assumed that the egg itself, before it is released, is not affected by the endometriosis.
However, in a collaborative study between researchers at the University and Princess Anne Hospital’s Complete Fertility Centre, it was found that egg quality is severely compromised in endometriosis.
Published in Scientific Reports, the study found that the ability of the egg to mature was blocked by endometriosis, and that eggs could suffer serious damage by exposure to follicular fluid from women with endometriosis.
The research team believes that the effects of endometriosis on maturing eggs could be prevented by antioxidants.
During the study, the team analysed the effects of two antioxidants, Resveratrol and Melatonin, by adding them to follicular fluid taken from women with endometriosis. The antioxidants were shown to reverse the negative effects caused by endometriosis; the level of DNA damaging free radical chemicals decreased, and more eggs were able to mature.
Endometriosis is strongly associated with infertility and up to 50 per cent of women who require infertility treatment have it. Struggling to have a baby can be terribly upsetting for a couple, so this new research gives some hope to people. It is very encouraging to see the possibility of the damage being prevented by antioxidants but more work is needed before we can put our results into practice.
The full article is available to read here.