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The Newest Endometriosis Medicine

For years the only ‘treatments’ for endometriosis was surgery or hormonal contraception. Currently, this is still the way women are treated for endometriosis.

In the 1990s a medication, Lupron, that is essentially a hormonal way of producing very low estrogen and progesterone levels, equivalent to menopausal levels. Lupron is typically given with hormonal contraception to mitigate against the worst of the hot flash symptoms that are a common side effect from the treatment.

Elagolix, sold as the brand name product Orilissa is now approved for the treatment of endometriosis.

Specifically Orilissa is for the treatment of menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), pain in the pelvis when women are not on their period, and painful intercourse (dysparunia) due to endometriosis.

The approval is for women with moderat or severe pain, not wanting pregnancy.

Like other endometriosis treatments, the physiologic way the medication works is to lower the hormone estrogen. Thus bone loss during Orilissa treatment is seen.

Most low estrogen effects, like the bone loss, should be reversible, but may not be.

If endometriosis is severe a woman might be infertile. Treatment of endometriosis with Orilissa should improve fertility, but there are no long term studies of fertility after medication use.

Side effects, mood effects, effects on your birth control pills, and whether this medicine is for you, should be worked out with your individual physician.


Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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