Pill Can Relieve Endometriosis Pain
Continuous Hormone Administration Is the Key, Study Suggests
Not a New Idea
Women's health expert David F. Archer, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, tells WebMD that the Italian study is one of the first to examine continuous oral contraception for the management of pelvic pain caused by endometriosis, even though the treatment has been around for years.
"I think a lot of physicians in the United States have used treatments similar to this," he says. "Women who have moderate to severe pain, like those in this study, often end up having hysterectomies and both ovaries removed at relatively early ages. Certainly this treatment offers an alternative to hysterectomy for many of these women."
But Archer says the Italian study does little to convince him that continuous suppression of ovulation with birth control pills can "cure" endometriosis. And he questions the design of the study, which did not include a comparison group of women either taking placebo treatments or oral contraceptives on the traditional 21-day schedule.
"It is hard to draw firm conclusions from this study," he says. "But for women not seeking pregnancy with moderate to severe pelvic pain, continuous oral contraceptive use appears to be a useful adjunct to existing endometriosis treatments."