Abnormal growth of the cells that form the endometrium or the lining of the uterus is known as endometriosis. In this health order, the endometrial cells develop on the ovary, bladder, rectum, bowel and the pelvic area. Painful menstrual bleeding, irregular menstruation and infertility are the main symptoms of endometriosis.
Providing relief from pain is the first step of endometriosis treatment. Hormonal drugs are prescribed to reduce the severity of endometriosis and control monthly endometrial tissue build-up. However, medications currently used for treating endometriosis cannot cure the disorder. They only provide temporary relief from the symptoms of endometriosis. The appropriate treatment depends on the age of the patient and severity of the ailment.
Medications to Treat Endometriosis
Pain Relief Medication
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used as first line treatment for reducing pain and inflammation of the endometrial tissue. To prevent pain that takes place during the menstrual period, the pain relief medication should be taken a day before the menstrual period is expected to begin or as soon as soon as you experience the discomfort.
To keep the pain under control, the medication should be taken according to the schedule. Sometimes acetaminophen or paracetamol drugs are taken instead of NSAIDs for treating the pain. However, pain relief drugs are not recommended for women who are planning conception. If taken around the time of conception, they increase the risk of miscarriage.
Birth Control Pill
Oral contraceptives containing estrogen and progestin are widely used for treating endometriosis. By obstructing ovulation, these pills slow down growth of endometrial tissues, thereby providing relief from the symptoms of endometriosis. In combination with NSAIDs, they are usually used as the first line treatment for endometriosis.
As birth control pills are less likely to cause side effects, they are often used for a prolonged period to keep abnormal endometriosis growth under control. Irregular menstrual period, spotting in between periods, nausea, vomiting, tenderness of breasts, headache, weight gain, depression and low sex drives are common side effects of these hormonal medications.
Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Agonist (GnRH-a)
When birth control pills fail to control the symptoms of endometriosis, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists are used for treating the disorder. By dramatically lowering production of estrogen, these medications obstruct growth of endometrial tissues. By stopping menstrual periods, GnRH-a causes menopause-like condition. GnRH-a drugs are usually used for a short time, between three to six months, for treating endometriosis. The benefits of the treatment may last for several months even after stopping the medication.
GnRH-a drugs used for shrinking the endometrial tissues include the injectable drugs goserelin and leuprolide and the nasal spray nafarelin. Common side effects of these drugs include absence of menstrual periods or irregular menstruation, vaginal discomfort, hot flashes, acne and low sex drive.
Danazol contains the male hormone testosterone. By raising the androgen level and suppressing estrogen production, it creates a menopause-like condition, which helps to inhibit growth of endometrial tissues. Certain male physical traits may develop following treatment with danazol.
Increase in cholesterol level is another serious side effect of this drug. To avoid these serious side effects, danazol is used occasionally for treating severe endometriosis that has not responded to conventional drugs.
The steroidal progestin drug medroxyprogesterone helps to stop the growth of the endometrial tissues. They are usually injected to treat endometriosis. Menopause-like condition develops by using this drug. Osteoporosis, depression and weight gain are possible side effects of the drug.