Endometriosis is a common gynecologic condition, affecting about 11% of women during their reproductive years. If you have endometriosis, the tissue that lines your uterus (endometrium) grows elsewhere in your pelvis — and it can cause symptoms from chronic pain to infertility.
Like any health condition, endometriosis ranges in severity. It doesn’t have a cure, but the good news is that it can be treated to relieve your symptoms.
The best endometriosis treatment for you depends on two main factors: the severity of your condition and your family planning goals. Samuel Van Kirk, MD, and our team specialize in endometriosis care, and we’re here to help you learn more about your treatment options.
Conservative treatment for endometriosis
Endometriosis differs from woman to woman, and the severity of symptoms isn’t always an accurate indication of the severity of the condition. For example, you might have mild symptoms with a more severe case of endometriosis, or intense symptoms with mild endometriosis.
Dr. Van Kirk identifies and diagnoses endometriosis with a comprehensive physical exam. In many cases, he starts by recommending conservative treatment.
Pain medication for endometriosis
When endometriosis pain is mild or occasional, Dr. Van Kirk may recommend managing it with pain-relieving medication. Both over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers can effectively reduce common symptoms of endometriosis, like:
- Painful menstrual periods
- Pelvic pain
- Lower back pain
Always take pain medication as directed. If you’re still experiencing pain or other symptoms after taking pain medication, talk to Dr. Van Kirk about other treatment options.
Hormone therapy for endometriosis
If you’re not currently trying to get pregnant, hormone therapy can be an effective option for endometriosis. Dr. Van Kirk often recommends oral birth control pills to regulate your menstrual cycle and minimize endometriosis symptoms.
Other hormone medications that could reduce endometriosis symptoms include:
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) medicines
- Progesterone and progestin
Hormone therapy may be administered through oral pills, an intrauterine device (IUD), nasal sprays, or injections. Dr. Van Kirk monitors your condition closely if you choose hormone therapy for endometriosis, adjusting your treatment plan as needed to maximize your results.
Surgery for endometriosis
Many women find that medication offers relief from the pain of endometriosis. But if you’re trying to get pregnant or you have severe endometriosis, surgery may be a better option for you.
Endometriosis is one of the most common causes of female infertility. Endometriosis growths can block your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other reproductive organs, which may lead to infertility.
Taking hormone medication that controls your menstrual cycle isn’t an effective option to improve fertility, but surgery for endometriosis could increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Dr. Van Kirk offers minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to remove endometriosis growths. During the procedure, he identifies and removes patches of endometrial growth outside your uterus without affecting your reproductive organs.
If you have severe endometriosis and you don’t want to get pregnant in the future, total hysterectomy may be an option. A total hysterectomy is surgery to remove your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It’s an effective treatment for endometriosis, but it’s an irreversible procedure, so it ends your ability to get pregnant.
Endometriosis can be a painful, frustrating condition, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Van Kirk to learn more about endometriosis and the treatment options available to you. Call our Redding, California, office at 530-242-4129 or send us a message online.