‘ELFS’ app could change the course of endometriosis

Lead researcher and Reproductive Services Unit Consultant Dr Vanessa Ross
16 March 2022 | Gynaecology | Endometriosis | Research and clinical trials

Researchers at the Royal Women’s Hospital and University of Melbourne are part of a new project, collecting real-time data from pregnant women and those trying to conceive, as they deal with the fertility implications of endometriosis.

Experts at the Women’s are on a mission to alleviate the fertility and obstetric challenges faced by those with endometriosis, a condition affecting 1 in 9 women in Australia and 1 in 10 women globally.

This innovative project is hoping to inform future solutions by providing accurate, monthly data from women who have been diagnosed with moderate to severe endometriosis and who are either trying to conceive or desire future fertility.

The Endometriosis Longitudinal Fertility Study (ELFS) involves the use of a bespoke app designed to collect cyclical menstrual, fertility and pregnancy data. ELFS is one of nine projects funded by the federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund with the goal of improving the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis.

Study participants take an initial survey and then update researchers monthly, regardless of whether they are trying to conceive or avoid pregnancy. They also notify researchers if they have had surgery for their endometriosis during their time in the study.

Lead researcher Dr Vanessa Ross says participants that do conceive also provide updates on their pregnancy outcomes – including details about the baby’s delivery, birth weight and any complications in the pregnancy.

“We are looking at what happens over time to women who have moderate to severe endometriosis and how this affects their fertility and pregnancy outcomes,” she said.

“We know that surgery for mild forms of endometriosis improves natural conception rates, but we don’t know if surgery has the same effect for more severe forms of endometriosis or for those having fertility treatments such as IVF.”

Dr Ross hopes that the rich data collected through the ELFS app will help clinicians and fertility experts guide women about surgical and fertility treatment options in the future.

The project has recently launched, and is currently recruiting patients in Australia and overseas.

“We’re looking for 700 participants for this study and are actively recruiting at the Royal Women’s Hospital,” Vanessa said.

“We are very excited to be collaborating and recruiting patients from nine specialist endometriosis units in Australia and a specialist unit in Israel to conduct this very important research.

If you suffer moderate to severe endometriosis and are interested in falling pregnant – now or in the future – you may be eligible to enrol in the ELFS study, so speak to your specialist at the Women’s or participating hospital," Vanessa continued.

You can read about the nine research projects underway and opportunities to participate at www.endometriosis.org.au – and follow this link for more detailed information.