Endometriosis Treatment Overview

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Endometriosis is a painful disorder where tissue that normally lines the uterus is found in places outside the uterus. These tissues respond to estrogen and the menstrual cycle in the same way tissues in the uterus lining would, growing a little each month and bleeding slightly. Endometriosis is most common in the ovaries, bowel, bladder, or in the tissue lining the pelvis or abdomen.

Endometriosis symptoms may include pelvic pain that radiates to the back, legs, rectum and vagina, including pain during the menstrual cycle, during sex, and during bowel movements. While there is no cure for the condition, endometriosis treatment can help relieve the pain and address infertility issues that the condition may cause.

Women requiring endometriosis treatment will find compassionate, leading-edge care at the Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery (CIRS) at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). The Center also provides care for the full spectrum of conditions affecting reproduction, including for uterine fibroma.

Endometriosis treatment at BWH

There is no single endometriosis treatment that is equally effective for all women. In most cases, physicians will try a number of different endometriosis treatment options to find the combination of methods that is most effective for each patient. Endometriosis treatment at BWH may include:

  • Medication. Non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen are often the first line of endometriosis treatment and may be helpful at relieving pain.
  • Surgery. In this endometriosis treatment, surgeons remove tissue by laser, by cautery or by excision. In most cases, surgical treatment for endometriosis can relieve pelvic pain and enhance fertility.
  • Hormonal therapies. Some women find that drugs which control hormones in the body are an effective endometriosis treatment. Birth control pills containing estrogen and progestins are often prescribed first. Other treatment options include a hormonal patch worn like a bandage, a ring inserted into the vagina, and therapies that include progestin alone, such as Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Agonists (drugs which lower estrogen) or Danazol (a male hormone-like pill).
  • Alternative therapies. Some women find that alternative endometriosis treatment options such as acupuncture, physical therapy, or bio-feedback can be very effective at relieving pain.

For women experiencing infertility due to endometriosis, treatment options include:

  • Laparoscopic surgery to remove endometriosis tissues.
  • Fertility drugs taken orally or by injection.
  • Intrauterine inseminations.
  • In vitro fertilization.

State-of-the-art endometriosis treatment

The Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery at BWH is one of the premier infertility and reproductive medicine programs in the country. Led by a team of physicians renowned for their expertise, the Center provides access to the most advanced technologies and therapies for a broad range of conditions affecting women.

In addition to endometriosis treatment, patients at the Center can receive care for a number of other health issues, including uterine polyps, infertility, fertility preservation, genetic conditions, fibroid treatment and more. Patients can also consult with physicians about specific procedures, such as a myomectomy for ovarian fibroma.

Learn more about Endometriosis Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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