Endometriosis affects the inner lining of the uterus called the endometrium. There is no cure for endometriosis, but treatment can manage symptoms and help control the disease. The condition usually includes hormonal treatments, surgery, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The most popular medications to treat endometriosis symptoms are:
1) Contraceptive pills – Oral contraceptive pills have a combination of estrogen and progesterone hormones that pause menstruation and inhibit the growth of endometrial cells. It is effective in alleviating the pain of endometriosis, but should not be used during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
2) Mirena – The Mirena coil is an intra-uterine device that contains progesterone and acts as a contraceptive. The dosage of hormones in Mirena is one-seventh of that of contraceptive pills and it goes directly to the uterine lining rather than traveling through the bloodstream. However, it is said to increase the risk of benign ovarian cysts.
3) Danazol – Danazol contains a weak form of the male hormone testosterone and reduces the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body. This induces a pseudo-menopause-like state rather than a pseudo pregnancy state, which contraceptives create. Side-effects include weight gain, acne, smaller breasts, and mood swings.
4) GnRH analogues – These drugs simulate the actions of the body’s own hormones and cut down estrogen production, block egg production, and simulate a menopausal condition in the body. It has side-effects like thinning of the bones, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, headaches, depression, and loss of libido.
5) Progestogin – These drugs act like progesterone and inhibit the effect of estrogen, causing the endometrial growths to shrink or contract. It also prevents ovulation. The most commonly used progestogins are the drugs medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera), dydrogesterone, and norethisterone. Side-effects include weight gain, mood changes, bloating, fatigue, depression, and nausea.
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