Advances in the medical management of bowel endometriosis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Endometriosis infiltrating the bowel can be treated medically in accurately selected women not seeking conception and without overt obstructive symptomatology. When the rectosigmoid junction is involved, the probabilities of intestinal symptoms relief, undergoing surgery after treatment failure, and developing bowel obstruction during hormonal treatment are around 70%, 10%, and 1–2%, respectively. When the lesion infiltrates exclusively the mid-rectum, thus in cases of true rectovaginal endometriosis, the probabilities of intestinal symptoms relief and undergoing surgery are about 80% and 3%, respectively. Endometriotic obstructions of the rectal ampulla have not been reported. A rectosigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy should be performed systematically before starting medical therapies, also to rule out malignant tumours arising from the intestinal mucosa. Progestogens are safe, generally effective, well-tolerated, inexpensive, and should be considered as first-line medications for bowel endometriosis. Independently of symptom relief, intestinal lesions should be checked periodically to exclude nodule progression during hormonal treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-99
JournalBest Practice and Research: Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Bowel
  • Endometriosis
  • GnRH agonists
  • Medical treatment
  • Pelvic pain
  • Progestogens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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