Michigan State University researchers are trying to understand the causes of infertility and why so many women lose their pregnancies.
Dr. Asgi Fazleabas is associate chairman for research in the MSU College of Human Medicine Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. His work is moving into the college’s new Research Facility in Grand Rapids on Wednesday. He's trying to learn more about the painful disease endometriosis. "About 50-percent of women who have endometriosis also have infertility," he explains. "The other aspect of our work is trying to understand how this disease impacts the uterine environment, and how that in turn contributes to the infertility that these women suffer from."
The problem, Dr. Fazleabas continues, is that there currently is no way to diagnosis endometriosis at the onset. "To confirm it, you need surgical intervention," he continues. "Painful menstruation is usually a good sign that girls could potentially have the disease." He hopes to find a biomarker such as changes in the blood that could reflect the presence of the disease.
Suppressing estrogen can help control the disease, but there is no cure for endometriosis. When suppressed, some women experience relief from the pain and are able to get pregnant. Surgical removal is the primary curative component, but it often comes back.
Dr. Fazleabas doesn't expect a cure for endometriosis to be found any time soon, but he does think there is some optimism that earlier detection and intervention will save women the eight to ten years of suffering experienced by the average patient today.