Effect of Physical Exercise on Endometriosis Experimentally Induced in Rats

Reprod Sci. 2019 Jun;26(6):785-793. doi: 10.1177/1933719118799205. Epub 2018 Sep 19.


Objective: Endometriosis is characterized by the growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterine cavity. The prevalence of endometriosis among women experiencing pain, infertility, or both is as high as 35% to 50%. The most common symptoms of endometriosis are dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia, chronic pelvic pain, and infertility. Evidence has suggested that endometriosis symptoms result from a local inflammatory peritoneal reaction caused by ectopic endometrial implants that undergo cyclic bleeding. On the other hand, regular physical exercise seems to have protective effects against diseases that involve inflammatory processes such as type 2 diabetes and colon and breast cancer. On this basis, it is possible that the practice of physical exercise may have beneficial effects on endometriosis. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the possible anti-inflammatory effect of physical exercise on endometriosis experimentally induced in rats.

Study design: Seventy female Wistar rats were divided into 7groups of 10 animals each. Animals performed light exercise (swimming once a week), moderate exercise (swimming 3 times a week), and intense exercise (swimming 5 times a week) before or after endometriosis induction.

Results: At the end of the experimental protocol, a reduction in the size of endometriotic lesions was observed after physical exercise regardless of its frequency, with a greater reduction in the groups practicing moderate and intense activity; an increase in FAS levels and a decrease in matrix metalloproteinases 9 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)levels was also observed. The immunohistochemistry results did not lead to conclusive results. As expected, oxidative stress was reduced in all groups. These results show that the practice of physical exercise could be beneficial, at least in part, for the treatment of endometriosis.

Keywords: endometriosis; physical exercise; swimming; treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endometriosis / metabolism
  • Endometriosis / pathology
  • Endometriosis / therapy*
  • Endometrium / chemistry
  • Female
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / analysis
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / genetics
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / analysis
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / genetics
  • RNA / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Swimming
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2 / analysis
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2 / genetics
  • fas Receptor / analysis
  • fas Receptor / genetics


  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen
  • Timp2 protein, rat
  • fas Receptor
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2
  • RNA
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9