WHAT TREATMENTS FOR ENDOMETRIOSIS ARE AVAILABLE

O-date, no treatment has been developed that is effective for all women with endometriosis because little is known about the causes of the condition. However, many different approaches have been tried.

In general, the treatments aim to relieve the symptoms and, where desired, improve the chances of conception by eradicating as many endometrial implants, cysts and adhesions as possible.

The main options available for the management of endometriosis are:

Observation

Symptomatic management

Hormonal treatment

Surgical treatment

Combined treatment

Alternative therapies

Observation

Observation or a ‘wait-and-see’ approach involves no active treatment. Rather, as the name suggests, it simply involves a period of observation and monitoring. Such an approach should still involve regular visits to your gynaecologist to monitor any possible progression of your endometriosis and its symptoms.

Some gynaecologists believe that a period of observation is the most appropriate form of management for young women who have minimal endometriosis with no significant symptoms. Others believe that it is inappropriate because they believe endometriosis should be treated as it usually progresses.

A period of observation may be the most appropriate form of management if a woman decides that she does not want to have active treatment, particularly if she has minimal or no symptoms.

Symptomatic management for endometriosis involves treating only the symptoms — usually the pain — without attempting to treat the underlying disease.

It usually involves the use of various analgesic or anti-inflammatory drugs if the pain is intermittent, or a range of pain management techniques if the pain is chronic and ongoing.

Symptomatic management may be appropriate if a woman decides not to have treatment or if she has symptoms that have not responded to previous treatments.

Symptomatic management may also be used as an adjunct to conventional or alternative treatments in order to relieve ongoing symptoms.

If you decide to have only symptomatic management you need to be aware that it will not treat your endometriosis in any way and that in fact your endometriosis may progress.

Hormonal treatments

The hormonal treatment of endometriosis uses drugs to treat the condition. In general, hormonal treatments aim to eradicate the endometriosis by suppressing the menstrual cycle and preventing the growth and development of the endometrial implants and cysts.

Surgical treatments

In general, surgery for endometriosis aims to remove as many endometrial implants, cysts, endometriomas and adhesions as possible and to repair any damage caused by the disease. In the case of a hysterectomy, surgery aims to cure the disease by removing the uterus and sometimes the ovaries as well.

Combined treatment

Combined treatment is the use of a course of hormonal treatment before, or after, surgery to enhance the effects of the surgical treatment.

Alternative therapies

A variety of treatments are used by alternative therapists. Each therapist uses a combination of treatments, although the actual treatments used for each individual will usually depend on an assessment of her problems.

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