Non-hormonal Treatments for Endometriosis
Last updated: March 2023
There are a variety of treatment options available for endometriosis. I have experience with a variety of these options, but this article focuses on some of the medication treatments.
One of the most common medication classes used to treat endometriosis is hormones. This article looks at other types of medication treatment options.
Non-hormonal medication for endometriosis
There are multiple types of medications that are used to treat the different components of endometriosis. Some of these medication management classes include antidepressants, anti-convulsant, NSAIDs, and other pain medications.
My second endometriosis specialist gave me a prescription for amitriptyline, more commonly known as Elavil. My initial thought was, ‘great, another doctor who believes my pain is all in my head.’ But he went on to explain that he believed my endometriosis pain was real.
The prescription was partly a preventative. This doctor explained that many patients who live with chronic pain could become depressed.
At that point, I was a teenager and did not understand just how true this would become for me. Later in life, I learned just how depressed a person can become while living with a chronic invisible illness.
Additionally, antidepressants can be used to treat pain from “nerve injury or irritation from endometriosis” adhesions. Normally the dosage is different when treating depression versus endometriosis-associate pain. The dosage tends to be smaller when treating endometriosis.1
My first experience with anti-convulsant medications was intended to treat my chronic migraine. My migraines went from episodic to chronic in 2009, 5-years after my endometriosis started. The first medication I tried in this class was topiramate, also known as Topamax.
Since then, I have tried others, such as pregabalin and gabapentin. Currently, I am taking an extended-release version of gabapentin called Gralise. This medication has been helpful with my nerve-related pain, including my endometriosis and migraine pain.
One of the “most common types of pain relievers are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also called NSAIDs.” Examples of non-prescription NSAIDs are Motrin and Aleve. Throughout the years I have been on a variety of different prescription-strength NSAIDs.2
The one that was the most helpful for endometriosis-related pain was Celebrex. Unfortunately, this prescription has an extremely high occurrence of severe heartburn. It is so common that it is known as Celebrex heartburn. Despite taking the prescription Nexium and discontinuing using Celebrex, I am still living with the heartburn issue.
Currently, the only time I take a prescription-strength NSAID is when I have a severe migraine. The urgent care will give me an injection of Toradol. While Toradol helps with migraine pain, it does not help with my endometriosis pain.
Other pain medications
I remember being a teenager and seeing pain doctors. It was a surreal experience.
They gave me two pain medication prescriptions. I was instructed to take one and then the other 30 minutes later if I was still in pain.
I did find out as a teenager that I was allergic to a commonly used pain medication called Tramadol. That was a very unpleasant experience!
Until recently, I had not had a pain doctor take my pain seriously since that initial referral when I was a teen. I currently use a lesser-known pain medication called Nucynta. For me, this has been the most effective pain medication.
While I discussed the medications that did or did not help me, it does not mean that these medications will affect you the same. We all respond differently to a treatment. It is important to discuss the options with your medical professionals.
What experience have you had with non-hormonal medications for endometriosis-related pain management?
Which symptoms are you experiencing the most this week? (Check all that apply):