Common condition endometriosis reprograms brain for depression

A woman on a hospital bed

Women with endometriosis can experience anxiety as well as pain

Michele Constantini/Getty

Endometriosis can reprogram the brain, causing anxiety and depression – according to research in mice. The findings suggest the common disorder may put the one in ten women who have it at risk of mental health problems.

Endometriosis is caused by uterus lining (endometrium) cells moving elsewhere in the body where they can compress nerves and bleed in time with a woman’s menstrual cycle. It affects 176 million women worldwide and can cause severe pain as well as infertility.

But despite being a common disorder among women of reproductive age, we know very little about it. What causes bits of a women’s uterine lining to turn up elsewhere in the body remains mysterious, but one theory is that menstrual blood somehow moves up through the pelvis, carrying tiny bits of tissue into other organs as it