Enriched Environments in Endometriosis

  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Ponce Medical School Foundation, Inc.
Updated on 3 October 2022


The investigators propose to conduct a randomized behavioral trial that will produce a clinically useful multi-level integrative medicine model to be used in stress- and inflammation-related disorders that can easily be implemented with current pharmacological interventions to alleviate pain and improve QoL.


Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory and painful condition that affects 176 million women in their reproductive years worldwide, and has substantial costs related to health care and loss in work productivity. The symptoms of endometriosis-chronic, incapacitating pain and infertility-cause high levels of stress, leading to poor quality of life (QoL) in affected women. Stress is known to affect the physiology of pelvic organs and to disturb the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis leading to chronic, painful, inflammatory disorders. The team has documented a relationship between stress, HPA dysregulation and endometriosis. In an animal model the team demonstrated that stress exacerbates disease manifestations whereas the ability to control the level of stress results in smaller lesions and less inflammation. Further, the team has identified social support as one of the parameters that most significantly impacts QoL in women with endometriosis. Environmental enrichment (EE) can produce beneficial effects in models of chronic diseases improving anxiety and immune-related disturbances, and can block the effects of chronic stress on brain hippocampal integrity. The team recently found that EE can effectively minimize lesion size and numbers, and also decreased anxiety in this animal model. Together, these data support the basic premise of this proposal: EE interventions can overcome chronic stress thus reversing the negative influences on mental health status (depression/anxiety levels), inflammation/HPA axis (inflammatory cytokines, cortisol), and clinical course (pain levels) of endometriosis, leading to improved QoL. The central objective of this study is to refine and test a multi-modal intervention based on the EE paradigm tested in our animal model and translated it to the human scenario, to produce data on its effectiveness. The team hypothesizes that the EE interventions can be effectively adapted for women with endometriosis resulting in pain reduction and improved QoL. To test our hypothesis, our multidisciplinary team with combined expertise in endometriosis, psychology, physiology, neuroscience, gynecology, and stress management has adapted the experimental EE model to the human scenario. By applying a combined approach (systematic review of the literature, and input from a patient advisory committee) the team has developed six EE modules to be tested in human subjects. This study consists of two specific aims. In aim 1, the team will assess feasibility and acceptability of the EE interventions through a collaborative approach involving a patient population to refine EE modules. Under aim 2, the team will conduct a randomized clinical trial (RCT) of the EE intervention to determine its efficacy in improvement of pelvic pain and QoL (primary outcomes), and inflammation, HPA axis disturbances, and mental health (depression, anxiety) (secondary outcomes), measured before and after the intervention. With this purpose, the team will use a case control study design for the RCT where cases will receive the intervention as an adjuvant to standard gynecologic care for endometriosis, while controls will receive standard of care only. The proposed work will produce a clinically useful multi-level integrative medicine model to be used in stressand inflammation-related disorders that can easily be implemented with current pharmacological interventions to alleviate pain and improve QoL.

Condition Endometriosis-related Pain, Endometriosis, Pelvic Pain, Quality of Life, Inflammation Pelvic
Treatment Environmental enrichment
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04179149
SponsorPonce Medical School Foundation, Inc.
Last Modified on3 October 2022

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