The variability of the nerve supply of the cysts in different individuals may help explain why symptoms and severity of pain vary so greatly in women who have endometriosis, a disease that may affect up to 50 percent of women in their reproductive years, according to Berkley.
Endometriosis is thought to occur when cells from the lining of the uterus escape into the pelvic cavity during menstruation and attach themselves to the outside of the uterus, ovaries or other organs in the abdomen. The cells can develop into growths or cysts that impact fertility and may cause severe menstrual cramps and other pelvic pains.
Berkley said she and her colleagues hope their findings may lead to new treatments for endometriosis. Currently the disease is treated with hormone therapy or surgery.