Monday, 29 March 2010

An Inflammatory Subject

Endometriosis has a lot of what is termed co-morbid conditions. That is, conditions you are more likely to have if you have endometriosis. A shortlist of such conditions, in no particular order, is given below.

Upper respiratory tract infections
Vaginal infections
Urinary infections
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue

That’s a short list by the way, endometriosis likes company apparently. Anyway there’s another co-morbid condition to add to the pantheon of existing ones you’ll be overjoyed to hear. A recent study found that pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is more common in women with endometriosis. PID is a general term used when it is found that any of the pelvic organs (uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes etc) are inflamed. Untreated PID can lead to the formation of adhesions between nearby organs which cause pain. PID is a very generic term as well because it doesn’t really tell us why the pelvic organ is inflamed, although it is usually due to an infection of some kind.

Irritatingly, despite the fact that endometriosis and PID are two very different conditions, endometriosis can often be misdiagnosed as PID and diagnosing each condition individually would be very difficult if a woman has both endo and PID.

The study in question looked at all the women who underwent surgery for ovarian endometriosis between 2000 and 2007, (a total of 720) between two hospitals in Greece. PID was identified in 2.9% of cases, which is a small number but still higher than the general population. So, why are women with endo more likely to have PID? Like most of the questions associated with endometriosis, we don’t really know, and that’s very annoying. Judging by the above list of co-morbid conditions it would appear women with endo are more susceptible to infections, possibly due to deficiencies in the immune system. Anyway, enough of my mental flailing, if you want to know more about PID there is a fact sheet here.