Pain Relief Treatments
If the main problem of endometriosis is pelvic pain, the standard pain-killers could be the first line of treatment. These could be combined with hormonal treatments to enhance pain relief result.
Hormones may be used to relieve pain. The hormones may help slow the growth of the endometrial tissue. The most commonly prescribed hormones include oral contraceptives, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, progestogens, and danazol. Not all women, however, get pain relief from medications. Medication does not reduce adhesions or scar tissue, which may be the cause of pain. These medications are not for all women. As with most medications, there are some side effects linked to hormone treatment. Some women, however, may find the relief of pain is worth the discomfort of the side effects.
Birth control pills are often prescribed for symptoms of endometriosis. The hormone in them helps keep the menstrual period regular, lighter, and shorter and can relieve pain. There is no evidence that birth control pills shrink endometriosis or increase fertility. The doctor may prescribe the pill in a way that prevents a woman from having periods.
GnRH is a hormone that helps control the menstrual cycle. GnRH agonists are drugs that are similar to human GnRH but many times more potent than the natural substance. GnRH agonists lower estrogen levels by turning off the ovaries. This produces a temporary condition similar to menopause. GnRH agonists can be given as an injection, an implant, or nasal spray. Usually, patches of endometriosis shrink and pain is relieved. GnRH may help relieve pain during sex. Women taking GnRH may have hot flushes (hot flashes), headaches, and vaginal dryness. Treatment with GnRH usually lasts up to 6 months. After stopping GnRH, you will have periods again in about 6-10 weeks. Symptoms of endometriosis will recur in at least half of women who take GnRH, especially if symptoms are severe.
The hormone progesterone has shown to shrink patches of endometriosis. Progestogens (artificial derivatives of progesterone) work against the effects of estrogen on the tissue. You will no longer have a menstrual period when taking progestogens. Progestogens are taken as a pill or injection (Depo-Provera).
Danazol is a synthetic hormone that shrinks endometrial tissue. It is taken as a pill and stops the menstrual cycle. You will no longer have a period while taking danazol. Danazol works very well to decrease pelvic pain and pain during sexual intercourse. Symptoms of endometriosis usually return in about 6 weeks after you stop taking the medication. The side effects of danazol may include weight gain, acne, deepening of the voice, and hair growth. Danazol treatment is not for everyone. Women who have liver, kidney, or heart problems cannot take danazol.
With the exception of the oral contraceptive pill, the drugs used to treat endometriosis are not contraceptives and barrier methods of contraception should be used during treatment.