Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Sexual Activity May Influence Endometriosis

Contact with seminal fluid has been associated with endometriosis by researchers at the University of Adelaide.

“In laboratory studies, our research found that seminal fluid (a major component of semen) enhances the survival and growth of endometriosis lesions,” says Dr Jonathan McGuane, who was co-lead author of the research published in The American Journal of Pathology.

“Endometriosis, when tissue that normally grows inside a women’s uterus grows outside the uterus, affects one in ten

reproductive-aged women,” explains co-author A/Prof Louise Hull. “The condition’s symptoms vary but include painful periods, pelvic pain, and women with endometriosis may have difficulty conceiving. 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.”

Hull says that more research is needed to uncover what this means for the relationship between endometriosis and sexual activity. “We now need to apply these laboratory findings to real life and determine whether the exposure of seminal fluid that occurs naturally during intercourse puts women at increased risk of developing endometriosis, and if modifications to sexual activity could lower the severity of the disease in women with endometriosis.”