Physiology of the endometrium and regulation of menstruation

Hilary Od Critchley, Jacqueline A Maybin, Gregory M Armstrong, Alistair R W Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The physiological functions of the uterine endometrium (uterine lining) are preparation for implantation, maintenance of pregnancy if implantation occurs, and menstruation in the absence of pregnancy. The endometrium thus plays a pivotal role in reproduction and continuation of our species. Menstruation is a steroid regulated event and there are alternatives for a progesterone-primed endometrium, i.e. pregnancy or menstruation. Progesterone withdrawal is the trigger for menstruation. The menstruating endometrium is a physiological example of an injured or "wounded" surface that is required to rapidly repair each month. The physiological events of menstruation and endometrial repair provide an accessible in vivo human model of inflammation and tissue repair. Progress in our understanding of endometrial patho-physiology has been facilitated by modern cellular and molecular discovery tools, along with animal models of simulated menses. Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB), including heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) imposes a massive burden on society, affecting one in four women of reproductive age. Understanding structural and non-structural causes underpinning AUB is essential to optimise and provide precision in patient management. This is facilitated by careful classification of causes of bleeding. We highlight the crucial need for understanding mechanisms underpinning menstruation and its aberrations. The endometrium is a prime target tissue for selective progesterone receptor modulators (SPRMs). This class of compounds has therapeutic potential for the clinical unmet need of HMB. SPRMs reduce menstrual bleeding by mechanisms still largely unknown. Human menstruation remains a taboo topic and many questions concerning endometrial physiology that pertain to menstrual bleeding are yet to be answered.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysiological reviews
Early online date7 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2020


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