Doctors Compare Treatments for Severe Endometriosis Pain

May 17, 2006

Women who suffer from chronic pelvic pain after surgery for endometriosis might be helped by a study comparing two drugs, one of which is the low-cost, common birth control pill, according to doctors at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Researchers are investigating the effectiveness and cost benefits of using oral contraceptives versus Lupron, the only FDA-approved 12-month treatment for endometriosis pain. Although surgery often reduces debilitating pain in the short term, about 50 percent of patients still have pain a year later. The desired post-operative treatment is one that could be used for a long time. Lupon is often prescribed for this purpose but it is expensive and has unwanted side effects. As an alternative, some doctors also prescribe birth control pills, but there is little research on how the two treatments compare.

The National Institutes of Health is funding the $1.5 million study. Doctors hope to enroll more than 190 women in Rochester and Boston, where Harvard Medical School researchers are collaborating on the clinical trial.

“Like many areas of medicine, simple treatments that minimize side effects and cost can often work as well, if not better, than more costly treatments that may have significant side effects,” said principal investigator David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and a research gynecologist.

Half of the study participants will receive Lupon, which temporarily stops menstrual periods and produces a menopause-like state. Those women will also receive Aygestin, which helps to relieve some of the side effects of Lupon, including bone weakening. A second group of women will receive oral contraceptives, which are a combination of synthetic estrogen and progesterone. Birth control pills can be used continuously to stop menstrual bleeding. 

The volunteers will be randomly assigned to one of the two groups. Women must be at least 18 years old and willing to attend approximately seven visits to Strong Memorial Hospital during 14 months. Call (585) 273-5734 for more information.

                                                           

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