Birth control hormones relieve
endometriosis by stopping
ovulation and reducing the
endometrium's monthly cycle of growing, shedding, and
They also affect the endometriosis growths (implants), making
them shrink and bleed less. Birth control hormones can also be used to stop or
further slow endometriosis growths after endometriosis surgery.
You can get birth control hormones as a pill you take by mouth every day,
as a weekly hormone skin patch, or as a monthly vaginal ring.
Birth control hormones are the first-choice treatment for controlling
endometriosis growth and pain. This is because birth control hormones are the
hormone therapy that is least likely to cause bad side effects. For this
reason, they can be used for years. Other hormone therapies can only be used
for several months to 2 years.
Like all hormone therapies
and surgery, birth control hormones do not cure endometriosis. But they can
relieve endometriosis symptoms and are likely to slow the growth of
Birth control hormones improve endometriosis and menstrual pain
and bleeding for most women. They are most effective when used to relieve
minimal to mild symptoms.
Continuous use of birth control pills
is likely to give the most relief.1 About one-third
of women who take regular 28-day cycles have pain during the fourth,
Birth control hormones can be used with
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) therapy,
which helps further reduce endometriosis inflammation and pain-causing
Using birth control
hormones for 5 or more years lowers ovarian cancer risk (endometriosis
increases ovarian cancer risk).2
control hormones cannot be used to treat
infertility caused by endometriosis. They prevent
CitationsFritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Endometriosis. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 1221–1248. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2010). Noncontraceptive uses of hormonal contraceptives. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 110. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 115(1): 206–218.
July 7, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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