It is estimated that between 5 to 10 percent of women of reproductive age may have the condition known as endometriosis, which is characterized by the abnormal growth of endometrial cells (which normally grow in the lining of the uterus), outside the uterine cavity; most typically the ovaries.
Though there is no actual cure for this condition, endometriosis treatment can help manage the condition and its common symptoms such as pain and infertility.
Endometriosis treatment will depend upon the particular circumstances of the woman who has the condition – the treatment could be oriented towards control of pelvic and abdominal pain, towards combating infertility, resolving painful sex, or towards reducing period problems such as extremely painful cramps.
Endometriosis treatment when a woman has no plans of getting pregnant
Here the symptoms sought to be treated are those other than infertility. Very often women with endometriosis will respond very well to birth control pills that help reduce the pain by lowering estrogen levels in the body and hence shrinking the endometrial growths.
This, along with non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs to manage and reduce pain, can be effective treatment for endometriosis and will also keep the situation from worsening.
In more severe cases of endometriosis however, stronger hormone therapy may be required.
- Progestins work for those who either cannot take or find no relief from regular birth control pills.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs (GnRH analogs) medications in injection or nasal form inhibit the production of certain hormones from the pituitary gland. As a result of this medication, a woman stops getting her periods and will also experience some menopause like symptoms.
- Danazo; (Danocrine) enhances the androgen levels and lowers estrogen levels and is a very effective treatment for endometriosis, however there are significant side effects to contend with as well
- The newer approaches to managing endometriosis are aromatese inhibitors such as anastrozole (Arimidex) and letrozole (Femara), in respect of which however research is still ongoing.
Surgical Options for Endometriosis treatment
Certain surgical treatments can help to reduce not just the pain of endometriosis but also the infertility that it can cause. For instance laparoscopic surgery can help remove the adhesions and scar tissue that can help reduce not only pain but can also help improve chances of becoming pregnant. Lasers can be used to endometrial implants or a laprotomy can be used for this.
Surgical options may also be used when hormone therapy doesn’t work to reduce endometriosis symptoms relating to pain and so on. Conservative surgery removes endometrial implants but conserves the reproductive organs such as the uterus and the ovaries.
In more severe cases however, the uterus and in some cases the ovaries may also have to be removed by way of a hysterectomy or oophorectomy.
The problem however with endometriosis treatments, whether surgical or pharmaceutical is that of recurrence. However effective the endometriosis treatment in curbing worrisome symptoms of the condition, even where surgery is performed to excise the growths; there is a 40% chance of the problem recurring.
So treatment options have to be carefully considered, weighed against possible side effects and then be chosen or eschewed accordingly.