Can Birth Control Pills Relieve Painful Endometriosis Symptoms?

For women of child bearing age, endometriosis can be a nightmare. This chronic, incurable condition affects millions of women, causing them a great deal of pain and discomfort.


Although there is no known cure for endometriosis, there are a number of treatments available which can eliminate or reduce symptoms. The type of treatment prescribed will depend upon the severity of your endometriosis symptoms.

As this article will explore, birth control pills such as Yasmin are becoming an increasingly popular treatment for many endometriosis sufferers.

Endometriosis Description: What Exactly is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition that results in an overgrowth of tissue in the uterus. While this tissue, called endometrium, is necessary in the womb, when the tissue grows outside of the womb and spreads to other parts of the body, endometriosis occurs.

Endometrial tissue can spread to the bladder, bowels, ovaries, or other areas surrounding the uterus. This spreading tissue is often referred to as lesions, tumors, nodules or growths. Although endometriosis can also spread to other areas of the body, that is very rare. Endometriosis is usually confined to the region surrounding the uterus.

Even though endometriosis growths are usually benign, they can still cause pain and discomfort in the area where they occur.

During her period, a woman discharges excess tissue and blood through the uterus. In endometriosis patients, the tissue located outside the uterus cannot be discharged. Over time the amount of tissue increases, resulting in pain and an increase in severity of the endometriosis symptoms.

As the endometriosis worsens, the affected tissue area can experience both scarring and inflammation. In more severe cases, the endometrium tissue can block the area around the ovaries and fallopian tubes, sometimes resulting in infertility or extreme difficulty in becoming pregnant.

What are My Chances of Getting Endometriosis?

Although endometriosis can affect any female, some women have a higher risk of contracting the condition. Having one or more of the following factors can increase your endometriosis risk:

  1. Heredity. If a family member has endometriosis, your chances of suffering from endometriosis at some point are increased.
  1. Irregular Cycle. A 28-day cycle is considered average. Women who menstruate more frequently on a regular basis have a greater chance of getting endometriosis.
  1. Age at onset of period. Women who begin menstruating at a young age are more susceptible to developing endometriosis.
  1. Heavy bleeding. Do you experience excessive bleeding on a regular basis during menstruation? If you change your pad or tampon on an hourly basis, you are likely bleeding more than what is considered normal.
  1. Length of period. While the number of days a period lasts varies widely among women, five days is considered the average. If your period lasts more than seven days, your chance of suffering from endometriosis is increased.

Common Endometriosis Symptoms

The following list contains some symptoms frequently associated with endometriosis. Having one or more of the following symptoms does not guarantee the presence of endometriosis, only an increased likelihood. Only a physician can properly diagnose your condition.

  1. Infertility
  2. Heavy bleeding
  3. Painful intercourse
  4. Extreme cramps during menstruation
  5. Fatigue
  6. Spotting or “break through” bleeding between menstrual periods
  7. Discomfort or pain while urinating or during bowel movements
  8. Long periods that last over 7 days
  9. Pain or discomfort in the intestinal or pelvic region
  10. Persistent lower back pain.
Lower back pain can also be indicative of endometriosis.


How to Test for Endometriosis

If you suspect endometriosis, a visit to your gynecologist or obstetrician is imperative. It is important to notify your doctor of all endometriosis symptoms you are experiencing. During the first consultation, a pelvic exam is usually conducted. A pelvic exam is helpful in recognizing common signs of endometriosis.

Initially your doctor may recommend an MRI or ultrasound screening to detect excess tissue growth within the body. However, there is only one way to definitely diagnose endometriosis in women: through a procedure called laparoscopy.

Laparoscopy involves making a small incision in the abdomen. A tiny illuminated instrument is then inserted into the incision, allowing the physician to identify any growths caused by endometriosis. If the tissue can be properly identified as endometriosis, no further testing is necessary.

If the doctor cannot positively identify the tissue as endometriosis, a sampling of the tissue must be obtained for further study. After the biopsy or tissue scraping, the sample is then studied under a microscope.

Endometriosis Treatments

There are a number of methods used to treat endometriosis symptoms including pain medications, birth control pills, and surgery. The type of treatment prescribed will depend upon the severity of the individual endometriosis case. Over the counter pain killers are often the first form of treatment recommended by doctors. In mild cases, this may be enough.

For patients with moderate endometriosis, birth control pills are commonly prescribed. Today there are a number of birth control pills on the market that are highly effective in treating endometriosis. Yasmin is one popular brand of birth control pill frequently prescribed for endometriosis treatment.

Surgery to treat endometriosis is generally considered a last option reserved for patients experiencing severe trauma or pain. Depending upon the severity of pain or size of the endometriosis growths, a laparoscopy or laparotomy is performed.

Some women with endometriosis may even choose to have a hysterectomy. Although a hysterectomy is highly effective in eliminating endometriosis symptoms, it should only be considered by women who have no intention of becoming pregnant. During the hysterectomy operation, your physician may choose to remove the ovaries or fallopian tubes too.

Using Birth Control Pills to Ease Endometriosis Symptoms

Most birth control pills like Yasmin prescribed for endometriosis treatment are known as “combination pills”. These types of birth control pills contain both estrogen and progesterone. It is the combination of these two hormones that stops ovulation in order to prevent pregnancy.

Birth control pills are one of the most popular methods for treating endometriosis. The majority of patients using birth control pills to prevent endometriosis symptoms can usually take them for years without experiencing the side effects common to other types of endometriosis treatments.

Anti-inflammatory drugs can also be used along with birth control pills. In addition, patients who have previously had surgery for endometriosis may wish to take birth control pills after surgery. Future endometriosis lesions can also be eliminated or reduced through the administration of birth control pills.

Yasmin is a relatively new birth control pill that has been proven to reduce endometriosis cramps and discomfort. Patients taking Yasmin may also experience lighter bleeding and more regular menstrual periods. Yasmin is the first birth control pill available that contains drospirenone, the only progestin hormone not derived from testosterone.

To learn more about Yasmin and other birth control pills used to treat endometriosis,  browse through our women’s health articles section.

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