Researchers have made a significant breakthrough in the understanding and potential treatment of endometriosis, a chronic condition that has long perplexed the medical community.

As part of a recent study, scientists have discovered that a type of bacteria commonly found in the gut and mouth may be a risk factor.

The bacteria in question can be addressed by antibiotics, the research has shown. About 10% out of an estimated 190 million women and girls of reproductive age are affected by endometriosis. This disease is marked by extra tissue growing outside the uterine line, causing pain, infertility issues, pelvic pain, nausea, fatigue, and other symptoms.

According to the study published in Science Translational Medicine, a bacterium named Fusobacterium was found to be behind the condition. Scientists at Nagoya University and Toyota Kosei Hospital in Japan, who conducted the study, found that 64% of patients with endometriosis had Fusobacterium in their uterine lining, compared to fewer than 10% of participants in the control group.

Fusobacterium is a normal microbiome that is found in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract, and female genital tract. The new study found that women affected by endometriosis exhibit a significantly higher prevalence of the bacterium in their genital region compared to those without the condition.

Fusobacterium is an anaerobic, gram-negative bacterium associated with dental plaque flora and known to cause various infections, including invasive head/neck infections and pharyngotonsillitis.

The recent study focused on the bacterium F. nucleatum, which is associated with gum disease and gingivitis. Researchers conducted experiments on lab mice and found that those infected with Fusobacterium exhibited more and heavier lesions in their uteruses, a common indicator of endometriosis. They also discovered that the bacterium triggered an immune response around endometriosis lesions.

Encouragingly, lesions decreased in size when the mice were treated with an antibiotic targeting Fusobacterium. Although further research is needed, these findings suggest that eradicating the bacterium with antibiotics could be a potential treatment approach for endometriosis

"Eradication of this bacterium by the antibiotic treatment could be an approach to treat endometriosis for women who are positive for Fusobacteria infection, and such women could be easily identified by vaginal swab or uterus swab," Professor Yutaka Kondo from the Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine said in a statement.

Severe pain and heavy bleeding during periods is an early sign of endometriosis pixabay