Endometriosis for Parents: Treatment Options

Single-Yellow-GirlWhen an evaluation suggests endometriosis, it is likely that your daughter will be scheduled for a diagnostic laparoscopy. When a definitive diagnosis of endometriosis has been made, treatment falls into the following categories:

Observation: After a complete evaluation and before beginning therapy, your daughter’s gynecologist may decide to have her keep track of her symptoms and try mild pain medicine.

Medical Suppression: Hormonal treatment such as birth control pills either taken cyclically or continuously are felt to relieve symptoms in 8 out of 10 patients. Another medication called a GnRH agonist, such as Lupron Depot®, works by shutting off hormones made by the ovaries and temporarily stopping periods. The use of GnRH agonist therapy lowers the body’s estrogen level. This medicine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to be used for 6 months at a time. If used for over 6 months, studies have found it can cause loss of bone density. It is recommended that “add–back” hormone therapy be utilized to decrease this risk.

Surgery: At the time of laparoscopy, a special instrument is used to cauterize the endometriosis. After this procedure, many teens find relief from symptoms but some teens may experience pain again over time.

Lifestyle Changes: Dealing with chronic pelvic pain can be challenging for many teens. Exercise often helps to relieve or lessen pelvic pain and menstrual cramps. Eating well and getting enough rest also helps the body to manage pain. Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation help to ease pain too.

Pain Treatment Services: Many health care providers are associated with programs that provide treatment and support for patients with acute and chronic pain. Teens may be offered an evaluation for services such as biofeedback, physical therapy, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), and exercise programs.

Complementary Medicine: Acupuncture, herbal remedies, homeopathy and healing touch are among popular “alternative approaches” to medical treatment. Many of these therapies can be helpful and are used in addition to traditional medical treatment. Not every alternative approach has been proven to be safe and effective as research studies are limited. Before experimenting with any alternative therapy, check with your daughter’s health care provider.

While there is no cure for endometriosis, your daughter can be treated with surgery and medication to keep the endometriosis from getting worse and possibly affecting her future fertility.