Chronic pelvic pain significantly affects the health of up to 10 percent of women with endometriosis (Stratton, Fertil Steril 2006;86: 1302). We have recently published the results of a randomized, prospective, placebo-controlled trial of raloxifene (180 mg daily) used by women with chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis (Stratton, Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Jan;111: 88). This study was one of the largest randomized studies of medical therapy for endometriosis and, unlike other studies of endometriosis and pain, adhered to stringent entry criteria, including only those with biopsy-proven disease. Unexpectedly, women treated with the selective estrogen-receptor modulator raloxifene experienced return of chronic pelvic pain sooner than those treated with placebo. As both groups had endometriosis in similar proportions at second surgery, these results suggested that interference with estrogen action was related to pain threshold, lowering it in some such that their pain returned sooner. This observation has prompted further research into the relationship between pain and endometriosis in a cohort study. Diagnosis of endometriosis is done at a surgical procedure. One persistent issue in surgical diagnosis is whether histologic confirmation of the disease should be obtained, given the variable appearance of lesions. Stratton and Stegmann have correlated biopsy results with lesion appearance in two different ways. In the first study, we reported on the histologic confirmation given varying lesion characteristics, illustrating that no single color was associated with endometriosis and that surgeons should biopsy any suspicious lesion. Overall, it appears that single color lesions had similar frequencies of biopsy-confirmed endometriosis (59 to 62%). Only lesions with multiple colors had a significantly higher percentage of positive biopsies (76%). Of subtle lesions, 60% who only these type of lesions had endometriosis and of these, 40% of women who had only small, subtle lesions had biopsy-proven endometriosis. Mixed color lesions and endometriomas were the only two lesion types that were more commonly biopsy-proven (78%;Stegmann Fertil Steril, 2008 Jun;89:1632). In a second study, we created a logistic model to predict endometriosis. This model identified characteristics which indicated a high and low probability of biopsy-proven endometriosis. It was useful as a guide in choosing appropriate lesions for biopsy, but should not be used as a substitute for histologic confirmation. Stratton and her team of surgeons have continued to describe other contributors to chronic pain in women with endometriosis, such as adenomyosis, appendiceal disease, or obdurator hernia. Stratton with Kennedy of Oxford University co-chaired an international meeting to standardize entry criteria and outcome measures for clinical trials in endometriosis-related pain. Such standardization would facilitate the comparison of trial results and the production of systematic reviews, improving evidence-based practice in this area (Vincent, Kennedy and Stratton Fertil Steril, 2010 Jan;93:62). To better understand endometriosis, chronic pelvic pain and its treatment, we have analyzed a survey of 4,334 Endometriosis Association members reporting surgically diagnosed endometriosis. We have investigated whether the first doctor seen and adolescent onset of symptoms impact the diagnostic process of endometriosis. Almost all respondents reported pelvic pain with 50% first consulting a gynecologist and 45% a generalist for symptoms of endometriosis. Women and girls who reported seeing a gynecologist first for symptoms of endometriosis were more likely to have a shorter time to diagnosis, see fewer physicians, and report a better experience overall with their physicians. The majority reported onset of symptoms during adolescence, who reported a longer time and a worse experience while obtaining a diagnosis. The survey of the Endometriosis Association members was also analyzed to assess the prevalence of patient-reported, physician-diagnosed infectious diseases, cancers, and endocrine diseases in women with endometriosis. Nearly two-thirds of women reported one or more of the assessed conditions. Recurrent upper respiratory infections and recurrent vaginal infections were common and more likely in women responding to the EA survey. Melanoma was reported by 0.7%, breast cancer by 0.4%, and ovarian cancer by 0.2%. While ovarian cancer and melanoma were significantly more common than in the general population, breast cancer was surprisingly less common. Addisons disease and Cushings syndrome were rare (0.2% and 0.1%, respectively). These findings document other potential associations related to the immune system, which may help focus future research into this disease. Women with chronic pelvic pain have other regional pain syndromes like migraine headaches. We hypothesized that these two chronic, debilitating conditions co-occur. Of patients enrolled in the clinical trial, at least two thirds of women with chronic pelvic pain had migraine headaches that was independent of endometriosis diagnosis. Quality-of-life was lowered, beyond that due to pelvic pain alone. If migraine headache was common in women with chronic pelvic pain, regardless of the presence of endometriosis, it likely contributed to disability of those with both conditions and suggested a common pathophysiology. We also have begun to explore the relationship between central nervous system sensitization and myfascial dysfunction in women with chronic pain and endometriosis. In our study, all women with chronic pain and endometriosis have myofascial dysfunction. Those with chronic pain with current or a history of endometriosis appear to be more likely to have central nervous system sensitization than those with chronic pain but no history of endometriosis and healthy volunteers. Chronic stress and depression blunt the ACTH and cortisol response curves following Corticotropic-Releasing Hormone stimulation. Patients with chronic pelvic pain experience both and are at risk of having an altered response. Duration of pelvic pain, after adjusting for race, may be associated with an altered response in those with chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis. Additionally, difficulty sleeping and body pain may also be associated with an altered response In the coming year, we will continue examining aspects of the health of women with endometriosis by analyzing the Endometriosis Association Survey, continue efforts to define the pain outcomes in endometriosis clinical trials, explore the relationship between pain, central nervous system sensitization and myofascial dysfunction in women with endometriosis, and conduct analyses of endocrine responses in women with chronic pelvic pain related to endometriosis to determine whether there may be altered stress responses in chronic pelvic pain.

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Rogers, Peter A W; Adamson, G David; Al-Jefout, Moamar et al. (2017) Research Priorities for Endometriosis. Reprod Sci 24:202-226
Fourquet, Jessica; Sinaii, Ninet; Stratton, Pamela et al. (2015) Characteristics of women with endometriosis from the USA and Puerto Rico. J Endometr Pelvic Pain Disord 7:129-135
Stratton, Pamela; Khachikyan, Izabella; Sinaii, Ninet et al. (2015) Association of chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis with signs of sensitization and myofascial pain. Obstet Gynecol 125:719-28
Vitonis, Allison F; Vincent, Katy; Rahmioglu, Nilufer et al. (2014) World Endometriosis Research Foundation Endometriosis Phenome and Biobanking Harmonization Project: II. Clinical and covariate phenotype data collection in endometriosis research. Fertil Steril 102:1223-32
Becker, Christian M; Laufer, Marc R; Stratton, Pamela et al. (2014) World Endometriosis Research Foundation Endometriosis Phenome and Biobanking Harmonisation Project: I. Surgical phenotype data collection in endometriosis research. Fertil Steril 102:1213-22
Stratton, Pamela (2014) The association of clinical symptoms with deep infiltrating endometriosis: the importance of the preoperative clinical assessment. Hum Reprod 29:1627-8
Taylor, Robert N; Hummelshoj, Lone; Stratton, Pamela et al. (2012) Pain and endometriosis: Etiology, impact, and therapeutics. Middle East Fertil Soc J 17:221-225
Karp, Barbara Illowsky; Sinaii, Ninet; Nieman, Lynnette K et al. (2011) Migraine in women with chronic pelvic pain with and without endometriosis. Fertil Steril 95:895-9
Hsu, Albert L; Sinaii, Ninet; Segars, James et al. (2011) Relating pelvic pain location to surgical findings of endometriosis. Obstet Gynecol 118:223-30
Stratton, Pamela; Berkley, Karen J (2011) Chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis: translational evidence of the relationship and implications. Hum Reprod Update 17:327-46

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