Drug Therapy for Endometriosis-Associated Pain
Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that grows inside the uterus begins growing outside of the uterus. It often affects the bowels, the ovaries and the tissue in the pelvic area, although endometrial tissue may spread beyond the pelvic region in rare cases. Endometriosis affects more than 6 million women and girls, and this disorder often causes severe pain.
Causes of Endometriosis
According to the Mayo Clinic, experts are uncertain about the specific cause of endometriosis. However, physicians and researchers have come up with several potential explanations for the disorder. One of the potential causes of this disorder is retrograde menstruation, which involves menstrual blood flowing back into the pelvic cavity via the fallopian tubes, allowing displaced endometrial cells to stick on the pelvic walls and pelvic organs. Other potential causes include surgical scar implantation, immune system disorders, embryonic cell growth, and the transport of endometrial cells.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
The symptoms of endometriosis may include:
Pain before and during the menstrual period, including abdominal and lower back pain
- Pain during urination or bowel movements, which is most likely to occur during a woman’s menstrual period
- Pain during intercourse
- Excessive bleeding during menstruation and between periods
- Bleeding after intercourse
- Blood in the stool or urine
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Nausea and bloating
Multiple treatment options are available for women with endometriosis, although many of them only treat the symptoms of the problem. Treatment options that a doctor may recommend include:
Pain Medications – Since pain is one of the primary symptoms of endometriosis, a physician may recommend over-the-counter pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including naproxen and ibuprofen. In some cases, physicians may prescribe stronger pain medications to manage severe pain.
Hormone Therapy – Supplemental hormone therapy may help to reduce the pain that comes with endometriosis. Some of the hormonal therapies that may be used to treat this disorder include:
Hormonal Contraceptives – Birth control vaginal rings, patches and pills may help to control the hormones, resulting in a lighter, shorter menstrual period. Hormonal contraceptives may help to reduce pain for women with mild or moderate endometriosis.
Danazol – Danazol helps to suppress endometrium growth, preventing menstruation and many of the symptoms that come with endometriosis. However, this medication has serious side effects, and if women become pregnant while taking the medication, it could prove harmful to the baby.
Depo-Provera – Depo-Provera, or medroxyprogesterone, is an injectable medication that helps to stop the growth of endometrial implants and menstruation, reducing the symptoms of this disorder.
Conservative Surgical Procedures – Conservative surgical procedures may be used to treat women with severe endometriosis. Laparoscopic or traditional abdominal incisions may be used to remove implanted endometrial tissue from the abdomen.
Hysterectomy – For women with severe endometriosis, removing the uterus, cervix, and ovaries may be recommended, although this surgery is generally used as a last resort.
Unfortunately, many of the treatment options for endometriosis only treat the symptoms instead of providing a cure for the disorder. However, some drugs that are currently in trials do show promise. Women dealing with endometriosis may want to explore alternative treatment options, such as medical treatments that are custom-made for each individual by a compounding pharmacy.