Prevention of the recurrence of symptom and lesions after conservative surgery for endometriosis

Endometriosis frequently recurs after conservative surgery. Long-term medical therapy until the patient wishes to conceive is recommended to prevent the recurrence of symptoms and lesions of endometriosis.

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Kaori Koga, M.D., Ph.D., Masashi Takamura, M.D., Ph.D., Tomoyuki Fujii, M.D., Ph.D., Yutaka Osuga, M.D., Ph.D.

Volume 104, Issue 4, Pages 793-801


Although surgical excision of endometriosis both improves pain and enhances fertility, recurrence can further exacerbate pain and reduce fertility, which in turn impacts the quality of life and increases personal as well as social costs. Therefore, it is crucial to prevent the recurrence of symptoms and lesions after conservative surgery. This article reviews evidence regarding the prevention of postoperative recurrence of endometriosis reported since the 1990s. Over the past 5 years, many new studies have been conducted and have demonstrated that long-term postoperative medication markedly reduces the recurrence. Most of these studies used oral contraceptives (OC), with either the cyclic or continuous regimen, while some used oral or intrauterine progestin. Continuous OC is more efficacious than cyclic OC, especially for dysmenorrhea. The levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system is also shown to prevent recurrence of dysmenorrhea and possibly endometriosis lesions. Dienogest, a new progestin, is shown to reduce the recurrence of endometrioma. Similar to the case of ovarian endometriosis, long-term postoperative medication after conservative surgery for deep infiltrating or extragenital endometriosis seems important, although data are limited. Regardless of the lesion and the medication type, patients who discontinued medication experienced a higher incidence of recurrence, indicating that the protective effect of these medications seems to vanish rapidly after the discontinuation. On the basis of these facts, together with the pathogenesis of recurrence (retrograde menstruation and ovulation), regular and prolonged medication until the patient wishes to conceive is highly recommended to prevent the postoperative recurrence of endometriosis.

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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.