Study Seeks to Relieve Pain of Endometriosis

Reproductive Health Program Tests Medication for Chronic Pain Treatment

July 08, 2002

Relief from chronic pelvic pain as a result of endometriosis may come in the form of a pill, according to doctors at the University of Rochester’s Reproductive Health Program and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Principal Investigator Fred M. Howard, Jr., M.D., professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Savita Ginde, M.D., fellow in the University’s Reproductive Health Program, are leading a five-month pilot study testing the drug mifepristone as a treatment for chronic pain due to endometriosis.

Endometriosis, a disorder in which tissue from the lining of the uterus is found outside the uterus, can result in pain and infertility. The drug mifepristone is a synthetic steroid that has antioxidant properties and has been shown to block the effects of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone.

The pilot study will involve 20 women with chronic pelvic pain due to endometriosis. “There is some evidence to indicate that mifepristone is capable of relieving women of unrelenting endometriosis-related pain symptoms and reducing the amount of existing disease,” says Howard. “If results of this trial show promise, we will launch a large-scale research study to possibly offer new hope to women coping with endometriosis.”

According to Ginde, “Endometriosis affects 10 percent of women and can have devastating physical and social consequences for women.” Current treatment for the disorder varies according to the nature and severity of the patient’s condition and her desire for fertility. Traditionally, many women have undergone either hysterectomies or other surgical treatments for lesions and adhesions. A spectrum of medical treatments are also available, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral contraceptives, or other hormonal treatments such as progestins, danazol and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists. However, many of these treatments have proved unsatisfactory to the patient and the clinician.

Study participants will take small doses of mifepristone daily for three months, followed by an additional two months of monitoring. Six clinic visits are required and study participants will be paid up to $120. Prospective participants and referring physicians can learn more about the study by calling the research coordinator at the Reproductive Health Research Clinic at (585) 341-8044.

Information on endometriosis is available on the Web at www.endometriosis.org.

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Lori Barrette
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