Did you know your sex life has a bearing on your risk of developing endometriosis? Researchers from the University of Adelaide (UA) have taken a step closer to recognizing the factors that contribute to the risk for the disease.

Endometriosis affects one in 10 reproductive-aged women, Prof. Louise Hull, of UA’s Robinson Research Institute, said. Symptoms vary from painful menstrual periods and pelvic pain to difficulty conceiving. Prof. Hull admitted that there is still much to be learned about the causes of endometriosis and how to treat or prevent it. However, she and her colleagues have discovered what makes the condition worse.

According to co-lead author Dr. Jonathan McGuane, contact with seminal fluid plays a crucial role in endometriosis development; seminal fluid is a vital component of semen. “In laboratory studies, our research found that seminal fluid enhances the survival and growth of endometriosis lesions,” he said.

“This is an important finding and raises the possibility that exposure of the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) to seminal fluid may contribute to the progression of the disease in women,” Prof. Hull added.

More research, however, is needed to learn more about the association between sexual activity and endometriosis, Prof. Hull admitted. “The next stage of the research will look at what this means for women with and without endometriosis,” she added.

Prof. Hull wants to apply this newly discovered knowledge to real life to determine if the contact with seminal fluid during intercourse has some bearing on women’s risk of developing endometriosis. In addition, she wants to pursue research to learn “if modifications to sexual activity could lower the severity of the disease in women with endometriosis.”


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