Can anything treat endometriosis?
A number of medicines might help with your pain. You can try over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen (one brand name: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin).
Sometimes it helps to take birth control pills to regulate your hormones. Another medicine that might help is a long-acting progestin (this is a hormone that comes in a shot; it's also used for birth control).
Other medicines are danazol or a monthly shot of a hormone called a GnRH analog. Danazol and GnRH analog stop your periods. They may cause side effects like the ones women have at menopause. These include hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Danazol might cause acne and unwanted facial hair. Sometimes the side effects of the GnRH analog go away if you also take an estrogen pill every day.
Aromatase inhibitors, such as exemestane and letrozole, are a new form of treatment for endometriosis. This treatment is still considered experimental, but it has shown promise in some small studies. If you take an aromatase inhibitor, you will probably take it in addition to one of the medicines listed above.
How long does treatment last?
Birth control pills, danazol and GnRH analogs are taken for 6 to 9 months. During that time, your pain should get better. After you stop taking the medicine, the pain may come back.
What about surgery?
Surgery is also used to treat endometriosis. During surgery (or sometimes during diagnostic laparoscopy), the doctor removes the endometrial tissue from the wrong places. If you have a severe case of endometriosis, your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy. In this type of surgery, the uterus—and sometimes the ovaries—are removed completely.
What happens during and after menopause?
For many women, endometriosis goes away at menopause, when periods stop. Until menopause, medicine and surgery may be able to help with symptoms of endometriosis.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff