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Endometriosis (cont.)

Treatment Overview

There is no cure for endometriosis, but treatment can help with pain and infertility. Treatment depends on how severe your symptoms are and whether you want to get pregnant. If you have pain only, hormone therapy to lower your body's estrogen levels will shrink the implants and may reduce pain. If you want to become pregnant, having surgery, infertility treatment, or both may help.

Not all women with endometriosis have pain. And endometriosis doesn't always get worse over time. During pregnancy, it usually improves, as it does after menopause. If you have mild pain, have no plans for a future pregnancy, or are near menopause (around age 50), you may not feel a need for treatment. The decision is up to you.

Medicines

If you have pain or bleeding but aren't planning to get pregnant soon, birth control hormones (patch, pills, or ring) or anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) may be all that you need to control pain. Birth control hormones are likely to keep endometriosis from getting worse.4 If you have severe symptoms or if birth control hormones and NSAIDs don't work, you might try a stronger hormone therapy. To learn more, see Medications.

Besides medicine, you can try other things at home to help with the pain. For example, you can apply heat to your belly or exercise regularly. To learn about self-care at home, see Home Treatment.

Surgery

If hormone therapy doesn't work or if growths are affecting other organs, surgery is the next step. It removes endometrial growths and scar tissue. This can usually be done through one or more small incisions, using laparoscopy.

Laparoscopy can improve pain and your chance for pregnancy. This is especially true for women with mild to moderate endometriosis.5

In severe cases, removing the uterus and ovaries (hysterectomy and oophorectomy) is an option. This surgery causes early menopause. It is only used when you have no pregnancy plans and have had little relief from other treatments.

To learn more, see Surgery.

Infertility treatment

If you are having trouble becoming pregnant even after surgery, you can consider trying fertility drugs with insemination or in vitro fertilization. To learn more, see the topic Fertility Problems.

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