Understandably, you want quick relief from pain and other symptoms of endometriosis. This condition can disrupt your life if it’s left untreated. Endometriosis has no cure, but its symptoms can be managed.
Medical and surgical options are available to help reduce your symptoms and manage any potential complications. Your doctor may first try conservative treatments. They may then recommend surgery if your condition doesn’t improve.
Everyone reacts differently to these treatment options. Your doctor will help you find the one that works best for you.
It may be frustrating to get diagnosis and treatment options early in the disease. Because of the fertility issues, pain, and fear that there is no relief, this disease can be difficult to handle mentally. Consider finding a support group or educating yourself more on the condition. Treatment options include:
You can try over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, but these aren’t effective in all cases.
Taking supplemental hormones can sometimes relieve pain and stop the progression of endometriosis. Hormone therapy helps your body regulate the monthly hormonal changes that promote the tissue growth that occurs when you have endometriosis.
Hormonal contraceptives decrease fertility by preventing the monthly growth and buildup of endometrial tissue. Birth control pills, patches, and vaginal rings can reduce or even eliminate the pain in less severe endometriosis.
The medroxyprogesterone (Depo-Provera) injection is also effective in stopping menstruation. It stops the growth of endometrial implants. It relieves pain and other symptoms. This may not be your first choice, however, because of the risk of decreased bone production, weight gain, and an increased incidence of depression in some cases.
Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Agonists and Antagonists
Women take what are called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists to block the production of estrogen which stimulate the ovaries. Estrogen is the hormone that’s mainly responsible for the development of female sexual characteristics. Blocking the production of estrogen prevents menstruation and creates an artificial menopause.
GnRH therapy has side effects like vaginal dryness and hot flashes. Taking small doses of estrogen and progesterone at the same time can help to limit or prevent these symptoms.
Danazol is another medication used to stop menstruation and reduce symptoms. While taking danazol, the disease may continue to progress. Danazol can have side effects, including acne and hirsutism. Hirsutism is abnormal hair growth on your face and body.
Other drugs are being studied that may improve symptoms and slow disease progress.
Conservative surgery is for women who want to get pregnant or experience severe pain and for whom hormonal treatments aren’t working. The goal of conservative surgery is to remove or destroy endometrial growths without damaging the reproductive organs.
Laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgery, is used to both visualize and diagnose, endometriosis. It is also used to remove the endometrial tissue. A surgeon makes small incisions in the abdomen to surgically remove the growths or to burn or vaporize them. Lasers are commonly used these days as a way to destroy this “out of place” tissue.
Last-Resort Surgery (Hysterectomy)
Rarely, your doctor may recommend a total hysterectomy as a last resort if your condition doesn’t improve with other treatments.
During a total hysterectomy, a surgeon removes the uterus and cervix. They also remove the ovaries because these organs make estrogen, and estrogen causes the growth of endometrial tissue. Additionally, the surgeon removes visible implant lesions.
A hysterectomy is not usually considered a treatment or cure for endometriosis. You’ll be unable to get pregnant after a hysterectomy. Get a second opinion before agreeing to surgery if you’re thinking about starting a family.