Role of medical therapy in the management of uterine adenomyosis

No drug is currently labelled for adenomyosis and no specific guidelines are available for the best management, however medical treatments are effective in improving pain symptoms, bleeding and infertility.

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Volume 109, Issue 3, Pages 398–405


Silvia Vannuccini, M.D., Stefano Luisi, M.D., Ph.D., Claudia Tosti, M.D., Flavia Sorbi, M.D., Felice Petraglia, M.D.


Adenomyosis is a benign uterine condition affecting women at various ages with different symptoms. The management of these patients is still controversial. Few clinical studies focusing on medical or surgical treatment for adenomyosis have been performed. No drug is currently labelled for adenomyosis and there are no specific guidelines to follow for the best management. Anyhow, medical treatments are effective in improving symptoms (pain, abnormal uterine bleeding and infertility). The rationale for using medical treatment is based on the pathogenetic mechanisms of adenomyosis: sex steroid hormones aberrations, impaired apoptosis, and increased inflammation. Several nonhormonal (i.e., nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and hormonal treatments (i.e., progestins, oral contraceptives, gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues) are currently used off-label to control pain symptoms and abnormal uterine bleeding in adenomyosis. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues are indicated before fertility treatments to improve the chances of pregnancy in infertile women with adenomyosis. An antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory effect of progestins, such as dienogest, danazol and norethindrone acetate, suggests their use in medical management of adenomyosis mainly to control pain symptoms. On the other hand, the intrauterine device releasing levonorgestrel resulted is extremely effective in resolving abnormal uterine bleeding and reducing uterine volume in a long-term management plan. Based on new findings on pathogenetic mechanisms, new drugs are under development for the treatment of adenomyosis, such as selective progesterone receptor modulators, aromatase inhibitors, valproic acid, and anti-platelets therapy

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.