What are the treatments for endometriosis?
Endometriosis is not curable but there are treatments available to reduce symptoms. Treatment options for endometriosis include oral medication and/or surgery.
Nonsteroidal antiinflamatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be taken to ease the pain of menstrual cramps. NSAID options include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Aleve.
Hormone therapy can control the growth of endometrial tissue by limiting the production of estrogen in the body.
Hormone contraceptives. Birth control pills contain estrogen and progestin hormones that lower the activity of endometrial cells and helps women with mild symptoms of menstrual cramping. Women who smoke should not take hormone contraceptives.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH). GnRH puts the body into a temporary state of menopause by blocking the production of estrogen. This prevents menstruation by stopping the activity of endometrial cells. Because the body believes it is in menopause, there may be side effects that mimic menopause, such as hot flashes. Low estrogen levels can also weaken bone strength. Women who take Gn-RH also take hormonal supplements to offset these side effects. Gn-RH is a therapy for moderate to severe endometriosis symptoms.
Antiprogestogens (Danazol). danazol also reduces the production of estrogen in the body, while increasing the level of androgens. Danazol shrinks the endometrial tissue and prevents menstruation. Side effects include weight gain, acne, or hair growth.
Surgery can alleviate pain symptoms for women who do not respond to medication. Surgery may also improve the chances of success for becoming pregnant. Endometrial surgery (laparoscopic surgery) removes as much abnormal endometrial tissue as possible.
A study found that 70% of women with moderate endometriosis benefitted from surgery. However, up to 40% of surgical patients experienced recurring endometriosis after 1 year.
Some women who do not wish to become pregnant may choose a total hysterectomy, which removes the entire uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. The rate of recurrent endometriosis from total hysterectomy is very low but can still reoccur.