Treatment Options for Endometriosis

Standard Western Medical Treatment for Endometriosis

Standard Western medical treatment for endometriosis includes surgery and/or drugs such as progestins, Danazol, GnRH agonists, and estrogen-progestin oral contraceptives. Several of the medications are helpful for pain relief or reduction in the amount of menstrual flow, but have negative side effects and are not recommended if the patient wants to conceive.

Treatment of Endometriosis by Traditional Chinese Medicine

Many women with suspected or diagnosed endometriosis choose not to use any of the above methods for treatment but prefer an alternative without side effects. Chinese medicine offers a good alternative if applied correctly over a period of 3-9 months. While a Chinese medicine diagnosis can be made without the sorts of findings that investigative techniques like laparoscopy give, it is useful to have such findings as a starting reference point to compare to six months down the line when a second ultrasound may be done. (Laparoscopy, during which the extent of the endometriosis can be clearly seen and the tissue biopsied, is at present the only definitive way to diagnose the condition. However it involves a general anaesthetic and surgery to the abdomen so the second-best but less intrusive method, the ultrasound, may be preferable).

Treatments need to be applied regularly for 3-9 months. Often treatment is only in the latter 2 weeks of the cycle. Treatments include acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Progress should be monitored by close attention to all details pertaining to the period especially the type of flow. As symptoms improve it is interesting tocheck progress with an ultrasound.

A study conducted on women with endometriosis in Osaka, Japan, utilizing a classic Chinese herbal formula, monitored serum levels of Immunoglobulin M antibody titers, and indication of an immune response to endometrial tissue.The control group was treated with the Western medication, Lupron, which suppresses hormonal production. At the conclusion of the study, the control group had lowered levels of estradiol, but no change in the IgM antibody titer. The group receiving the Chinese herbal formula had no changes in estradiol levels, but levels of IgM antibody titer were decreased and the patients were kept symptom free for several months. It appears that the herbal formula was able to reduce the body’s immune response to the endometriosis. (Osaka City Medicine Journal. June 1998)

Research conducted at the Shanghai College of Traditional Chinese Medicine for the treatment of endometriosis and other female problems used a traditional formulation with rhubarb as the main ingredient. Chief functions of the rhubarb are to remove blood stasis, disintegrate masses and purge. Among participants in the study, total effectiveness rate was 80.26%, and that of specific symptoms, 88.89%. Reduction in dysmenorrhea symptoms of pelvic pain was reported at 66.72%, intercourse pain at 72.12% and diminishing size of mass or nodule at 22.15%. Three of the twenty-two women diagnosed with infertility conceived. Distinct improvement in the treatment of endometriosis was achieved, including a reduction in clinical signs and symptoms. (Shanghai College of TCM. 1991)