Unfortunately, there is no known cure for endometriosis. There are, however, different treatments that can help alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
To determine which treatment is most suitable for you is dependent on what your (and your doctor’s) goals are: relieving/reducing pain symptoms, shrinking or slowing endometrial growths, preserving or restoring fertility, and preventing/delaying recurrence of the disease.
Remember, the choice of medical treatment has to be a decision between you and your doctor. Always try and research treatments or simply ask your doctor about any side effects.
It is widely known that estrogen worsens endometriosis, so hormonal treatments are designed to attempt to minimize estrogen production in a woman’s body. It is used to suppress the menstrual period to prevent the monthly bleeding. These treatments usually offer some kind of pain relief, but this is often temporary.
Hormonal medications that act by shrinking the lining of the uterus and the endometriotic lesions include:
- The oral contraceptive pill
Each treatment has various side effects – so research the medications and pay attention to your body… no one knows it better than you. If a treatment is not working for you, let your doctor know immediately.
Surgical therapies for endometriosis may be either classified as conservative, in which the uterus and ovarian tissue is preserved, or radical (or “definitive”), which involves hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), with or without removal of the ovaries.
Conservative surgery is typically carried out by laparoscopy. Endometrial implants may be excised or obliterated by laser. If the disease is extensive and anatomy is distorted, laparotomy (opening of the abdominal wall via a larger incision) may be required. Success however, depends on the extent of the disease and surgeon’s skills.
While surgical treatments can be very effective in the reduction of pain, the recurrence rate of endometriosis following surgical treatment has been estimated to be as high as 40%. Many doctors recommend for women who have had surgery for endometriosis to take oral medications after surgery to help maintain symptom relief.
More radical surgery can be considered if a woman has not responded to drug treatments or conservative surgery and is not planning to start a family. Radical surgery, which may be necessary in severe cases, involves hysterectomy, removal of all growths, and removal of ovaries.
Complementary treatment options may include traditional Chinese medicine, nutritional approaches, homeopathy, allergy management, and immune therapy. Some women have found that endo-specific nutrition and vitamins, minerals, and other supplements have helped them achieve better health.
Some women who suffer from endometriosis suggest that using an integrative approach – hormonal, surgical and alternative – has improved their long term quality of life.
Every woman reacts differently to treatments.
It really is important that you speak openly about your symptoms with your doctor and pay keen attention to any side effects that you may experience.