The right question to ask

Reflecting upon the little model tonight, it occurs to be that although I took significant efforts to simplify the model down the the smallest thing possible, it was still too big. Not the model itself, but the question. It is a probably good question, “How do endometrial cells survive and reproduce outside of the uterus?”, but where does it lead? What does it reveal? I don’t know. Perhaps a better question is how to predict endometriosis without surgery.

What is Endocrinology

A lot of papers on endometriosis that talk about measurements are talking about hormones. Reading about the study of those chemicals and mechanisms lead me to read Wikipedia’s article on the topic. These were the main high level points from the introductory paragraph:

  • “is a branch of biology and medicine dealing with the endocrine system, its diseases, and its specific secretions called hormones”
  • and it’s mechanisms: “the coordination of metabolism, respiration, excretion, movement, reproduction, and sensory perception depend on chemical cues, substances synthesized and secreted by specialized cells.”
  • “is concerned with the study of the biosynthesis, storage, chemistry, and physiological function of hormones and with the cells of the endocrine glands and tissues that secrete them.”
  • “The endocrine system consists of several glands, all and in different parts of the body, that secrete hormones directly into the blood rather than into a duct system. Hormones have many different functions and modes of action; one hormone may have several effects on different target organs, and, conversely, one target organ may be affected by more than one hormone.”
  • “In the original 1902 definition by Bayliss and Starling, they specified that, to be classified as a hormone, a chemical must be produced by an organ, be released (in small amounts) into the blood, and be transported by the blood to a distant organ to exert its specific function. This definition holds for most “classical” hormones, but there are also paracrine mechanisms (chemical communication between cells within a tissue or organ), autocrine signals (a chemical that acts on the same cell), and intracrine signals (a chemical that acts within the same cell)”

Comments on ENDOMETRIOSIS: EMERGING RESEARCH AND INTERVENTION STRATEGIES

Endometriosis is an interesting disease. Wiley publishes the proceedings of a conference on endometriosis entitled “ENDOMETRIOSIS: EMERGING RESEARCH AND INTERVENTION STRATEGIES” here. The proceedings cover a breadth and depth of topics that were all very interesting.

Here are the things that really jumped out at me:

  • Endometrium are likely to be present outside the uterus of most women; but not all of them have pain. Pain is the thing that makes it a disease from which women suffer.
  • Research demonstrates a impact in fertility of primates; but not humans.
  • The definition of stages of the disease depends on the depth of which the endometrium have penetrated the tissue. This is surprising because it has nothing to do with the amount of pain suffered.
  • The menstrual cycle itself is an amazing thing.
  • A vicious circle occurs where endometrium begin to “fuel their own fire”.
  • The immune system’s failure to “clean up” ectopic endometrium is part of the problem.
  • There are number of things that can be measured in regards to the disease and it’s process.
  • The disease has traits of an auto-immune disease; and women with it are more likely to have other auto-immune diseases.

The papers within that report are the first research I’ve ever read on the topic.