LIVERPOOL, England, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- British researchers say they've identified an enzyme that may create a condition called endometriosis -- the most common cause of pelvic pain in women.
"Endometriosis is a condition whereby patches of the inner lining of the womb appear in parts of the body other than the womb cavity," the University of Liverpool researchers said. "It can cause severe pain and affects approximately 15 percent of women of reproductive age. Endometriosis is also associated with infertility, with 50 percent of infertile women affected by the condition."
The researchers led by Dr. Dharani Hapangama said they discovered an enzyme called telomerase is the cause of the condition. Telomerase is released by cells in the inner lining of the womb during the latter stages of the menstrual cycle in women affected by endometriosis.
"As a result the lining of the womb may be more hostile to an early pregnancy," Hapangama said, "and the cells that are shed at this late stage in the menstrual cycle may be more 'aggressive' and more able to survive and implant outside the uterus, causing pain in the pelvic or abdomen area,"
The research is reported in the journal Human Reproduction.