There are several different treatment options available for endometriosis. Your doctor will discuss each treatment in detail and help you determine those that best meet your needs. Treatment may depend on the severity of your condition, your age and whether or not you are planning to have children, and whether you have any other associated conditions.
Hormonal therapies can help slow the growth of endometriosis. These include birth control pills, progestins, Danazol and the newer drugs known as aromatase inhibitors, which act by interrupting local estrogen formation within the endometrial growths.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen can be taken to manage pelvic pain and menstrual cramping.
Surgery may be recommended for some women who are trying to get pregnant and for those who suffer from severe pelvic pain. Conservative surgery removes endometrial growths, scar tissue and adhesions without removing reproductive organs. This may be performed laparoscopically, using a slender scope called a laparoscope, which is inserted through a tiny incision near the navel. The laparoscope has a laser or small surgical instruments which remove growths.
In the most severe cases, a hysterectomy — with or without the removal of the ovaries — is performed. This is typically a last resort, particularly for women who are still in their reproductive years. Also, while surgery can be very effective in treating endometriosis, the recurrence rate of the condition after surgery is an estimated 40 percent.
Women who are experiencing infertility due to endometriosis may also benefit from treatment from an infertility specialist.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.