Medicines can be used to reduce pain and bleeding and, in some cases, to shrink endometriosis growths. For women who are not trying to get pregnant, birth control hormones and Reference anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) Opens New Window are usually recommended first. They are least likely to cause serious side effects and can be a long-term treatment option.Reference 1 But if Reference infertility Opens New Window from endometriosis is your main problem, medicines are generally not used.
Reference Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) reduce
inflammation, and bleeding from endometrial tissue.
Check with your doctor
before you use a nonprescription medicine for more than a few days. (If there is
a chance that you are or could soon become pregnant, don't use an NSAID.
They have been linked to increased miscarriage risk, especially when used at
the time of conception and when used for longer than a
- Start taking the recommended dose as soon as your discomfort begins or the day before your menstrual period is scheduled to start.
- Take the medicine in regularly scheduled doses. Taking the medicine only when your pain is severe is not as effective.
- If one type of NSAID doesn't relieve your pain, try another type. Or try acetaminophen, such as Tylenol.
- Reference Birth control hormones (patch, pills, or ring) stop monthly Reference ovulation Opens New Window and the growth, shedding, and bleeding that makes endometriosis painful. Birth control hormones improve endometriosis pain for most women.Reference 4 And they are the hormone therapy that is least likely to cause bad side effects. For this reason, many women can use them for years. Other hormone therapies can only be used for several months to 2 years. For more general information on birth control hormones, see Reference Birth Control Pills, Patch, or Ring.
- Reference Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRH-a) therapy lowers estrogen, triggering a Reference menopause Opens New Window-like state. This shrinks implants and reduces pain for most women.
- Reference Progestin (pills or Depo-Provera shot) stops ovulation and lowers estrogen. For most women, it shrinks endometriosis growths and reduces pain. Some studies show that the Reference levonorgestrel intrauterine device (IUD) decreases pain.Reference 7
- Reference Danazol therapy lowers estrogen levels and raises Reference androgen Opens New Window levels, triggering a menopause-like state. This shrinks growths and reduces pain for most women. This relief usually lasts for 6 to 12 months after treatment. But danazol side effects can be significant.
All hormone therapies for endometriosis can cause side effects and pose certain health risks. Some cause especially unpleasant side effects. Before starting a medicine or hormone therapy, review its possible side effects. If they sound less difficult than your endometriosis symptoms, discuss the therapy with your doctor.
What to think about
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference July 7, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology