If you have endometriosis or know someone who does, you might be interested to know, during your search for endometriosis treatment, that there is no cure for endometriosis. However, there are a number of endometriosis treatment and management options, once a diagnosis has been made. Treatment for endometriosis falls into four, general categories:
Medical: The most common medical therapies for endometriosis are hormonal contraceptives and other hormonal regimens, such as GnRH agonists (gonadotropin releasing hormone drugs), that control hormonal stimulation of the endometrial tissue. Examples of FDA-approved GnRH agonists include: Lupron (leuprorelin), Synarel (nafarelin), and Zoladex (goserelin). Hormonal (oral, transdermal or injectable) contraceptives, along with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are first-line management for most patients suffering from pelvic pain. They may be used indefinitely to manage symptoms, in part because they are cheaper and easier to use, with fewer side effects than other hormonal treatments. However, some women may experience side effects that are uncomfortable. If the pain fails to respond to oral contraceptives within three months, then your health care professional should try something else.
GnRH agonists: (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) This is a class of hormones that has been shown to help temporarily relieve endometriosis by blocking estrogen production that stimulates its growth. GnRH agonists can cause side effects including menopausal symptoms triggered by estrogen deprivation, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness and significant bone loss. Hormone therapy, a combination of estrogen and progestin hormones, typically is prescribed to alleviate these side effects so that treatment with GnRH agonists can continue for six months or longer, if necessary. However, the safety of hormone therapy for both short-term and long-term use is under intense scrutiny by the Federal government as result of risks identified by several major studies conducted in 2002.
In January 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would require a new, highlighted and boxed warning on all estrogen products for use by postmenopausal women. The so-called "black box" is the strongest step the FDA can take to warn consumers of potential risks from a medication. The warning highlights the increased risk for heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and breast cancer from supplemental estrogen — risks illuminated by part of the Women's Health Initiative study, which was abruptly halted when the risks were identified.