OBJECTIVE: This study was undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of a 6-month course of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist treatment for patients with symptomatic endometriosis of the rectovaginal septum. STUDY DESIGN: Fifteen patients with rectovaginal endometriosis and moderate to severe pain symptoms were the subjects of the study. None of these patients had either clinical or objective evidence of ovarian endometriosis, nor was there evidence of any obstructive lesions of the intestine or ureters. All patients were given leuprolide acetate depot at 3.75 mg, 1 ampule intramuscularly every 28 days, and treatment had a planned duration of 6 months. Follow-up evaluations were set every 2 months during the treatment phase and every 3 months thereafter until the completion of 1 year after discontinuation of medical therapy. At each follow-up visit pain symptoms were recorded, and clinical exploration, transvaginal ultrasonography, and transrectal ultrasonography were performed. RESULTS: Two patients stopped the treatment early after the second and fourth leuprolide doses; in both cases the reason was persistence of pain, and both requested a surgical solution. The other 13 patients showed a marked improvement with respect to pain during the 6-month treatment course but had early pain recurrence after drug suspension; 11 of them required further treatment within the first year of follow-up. The failure rate of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist therapy to produce 1-year pain relief after treatment discontinuation was 87% (13/15) on an intent-to-treat basis. The endometriotic lesions showed a slight but significant reduction in size during therapy but had returned to the original volume within 6 months after cessation of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone analog treatment. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs should not be considered a real therapeutic alternative to surgical treatment for patients with symptomatic endometriosis of the rectovaginal septum, except possibly in a limited and unpredictable number of cases.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs
- Pelvic pain
- Rectovaginal endometriosis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology