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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Mar;955:343-52; discussion 389-93, 396-406.

Conventional medical therapies for endometriosis.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City 66160, USA.


Endometriosis is a common gynecologic disorder that affects approximately 14% of all women and 30% to 50% of infertile women. Since the most common symptoms of endometriosis--progressive dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia, chronic pelvic pain, and infertility--are also symptoms of multiple disorders, a diagnosis of endometriosis can be elusive and confirmed only by visualization, that is, laparoscopy. Endometriosis is often treated surgically upon diagnosis; however, the rate of recurrence is high, suggesting that a combination of therapeutic approaches might provide better outcomes than any one option alone. The most widely utilized hormonal treatments for endometriosis are GnRH agonists and oral contraceptives; agents indicated by the Food and Drug Administration include GnRH agonists and the androgen, danazol. The majority of evidence in support of medical therapy for endometriosis is largely observational, with the exception of studies of GnRH agonists, danazol, and a few progestins. Conventional treatment approaches for the medical management of endometriosis focus on suspected endometriosis, following a diagnosis of endometriosis, following surgical treatment of endometriosis, long-term management, and retreatment. Although major advances have been made in the treatment of endometriosis in recent decades, lack of randomized clinical trials evaluating the use of agents such as oral contraceptives alone or as add-back therapy for GnRH agonists, or those that examine combined medical and surgical treatments, has hampered the ability of physicians to provide the broadest range of medical therapies for this disorder. Future trials addressing these issues are warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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