If you have endometriosis, getting a diagnosis is important. It’s also only the first step. After that, you’ll want to find out what kinds of treatment options you have. Although pain is often the primary reason women seek treatment for endometriosis, it is equally imperative to treat both adolescents and women of childbearing age aggressively, so as to preserve their reproductive potential. Currently, there is no cure for endometriosis, and treatment options fall into two main categories: Surgical and medical.
Laparoscopic surgery is commonly used to treat endometriosis. Since this condition is often diagnosed laparoscopically, it can be treated at the same time. A laser is used to ablate the lesions caused by endometriosis in many cases. There are some women that benefit from having the lesions surgically removed, instead.
Additionally, it’s important to note that laparoscopic surgery isn’t always the right choice. Depending on the size and placement of the lesions, a laparotomy may be necessary. This is a more open procedure, resulting in a longer recovery time. While surgical treatment helps with pain reduction in 60% to 80% of cases, endometriosis will recur.
In order to manage recurrence, medications are often used to slow the growth of any new endometrial tissue in places where it doesn’t belong.
Medication as an Endometriosis Treatment
When women use nonsurgical treatments they generally focus on pain management and hormonal therapy. Because the pain of endometriosis often gets worse with the menstrual cycle, hormonal birth control that blocks ovulation and menstruation can alleviate symptoms for some women. Over-the-counter pain medications are also commonly used.
While hormonal birth control can reduce symptoms, it doesn’t stop the lesions from regrowing. That could mean the need for additional surgical intervention at a later date. There are other medications that are available to treat endometriosis and it is important to consult with your physicians to review these. GnRH analogs are injections that can also be used as treatment. These induce a state of menopause, lowering estrogen levels. While menopause-related side effects such as hot flashes may be experienced, regrowth of endometriosis lesions is slowed or stopped.
Special Considerations If Wishing to Conceive
In young patients with early endometriosis (stageI/II) who do not get pregnant on their own, ovulation induction with intrauterine insemination could be considered. Women 35 years of age or older, with early stage disease, could consider in-vitro fertilization. Women with more advanced endometriosis (stageIII/IV) are more successful with in-vitro fertilization.
Working with your doctor is the best way to manage endo and also move toward starting or growing your family.
We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have about endometriosis or your fertility journey. Here at the Fertility Institute of San Diego, you will be treated with compassion and care. Please contact us today to schedule your complimentary virtual consultation!