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Two Auckland researchers say the ordinary oral contraceptive pill is a simple and effective remedy for ovarian endometriomas.
The cysts can be easily removed by surgery, but commonly recur and can cause ongoing pain and complications.
Neil Johnson of National Womens' Hospital and Shelley Reilly, a medical researcher at Auckland District Health Board, have reported in the science journal Fertility and Sterility that a trial has shown the pill can reduce reoccurrence of endometriomas after removal by surgery.
They have proposed an immediate change to current clinical practice so that if the contraceptive is considered as a treatment to reduce the risk of recurrence of an endometrioma after a cystectomy, the treatment should be given for at least two years.
Their study is thought to be the only randomised controlled trial that has evaluated the effectiveness of the use of long-term postoperative oral contraceptive pill treatment to prevent endometrioma recurrence.
The trial comprised 239 patients who had just undergone surgery to remove endometriomas and who were randomised into groups: those with no prescribed treatment, those taking cyclic formulations of the Pill, and those taking continuous doses of contraceptive pills.
The patients were followed for two years and the women who took the pill had significantly fewer recurring cysts.
Previous studies of the effectiveness of the contraceptive after laparoscopic cystectomy have produced conflicting results, but the two researchers said long-term treatment seemed to be the key.
"The length of treatment appears to play an important role in the efficacy of therapy," they said.