Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Endometriosis is a common gynaecological condition which affects many women of reproductive age worldwide and is a major cause of pain and infertility. The modern oral contraceptive pill is widely used to treat pain occurring as a result of endometriosis, although the evidence for its efficacy is limited. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) in comparison to other treatments for painful symptoms of endometriosis in women of reproductive age. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group Specialised Register of controlled trials; Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2006); MEDLINE (January 1966 to September 2006); EMBASE (1980 to September 2006); National Research Register; and reference lists of articles. SELECTION CRITERIA: All truly randomised controlled trials of the use of oral contraceptive pills in the treatment of women of reproductive age with symptoms ascribed to the diagnosis of endometriosis and made visually at surgical procedure were included. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Study quality assessment and data extraction were carried out independently by two review authors. One of the assessors was an expert in the content matter. We contacted study authors for additional information. MAIN RESULTS: Only one study met the inclusion criteria, in which a total of 57 women were allocated to two groups to compare an OCP to a GnRH analogue. Methods of randomisation and allocation concealment were unclear and the study was acknowledged by its authors to be underpowered. Women in the GnRH analogue group became amenorrhoeic during the treatment period of six months, whilst women in the OCP group reported a decrease in dysmenorrhoea. No evidence of a significant difference between the two groups was observed in terms of dysmenorrhoea at six months follow up after stopping treatment (OR 0.48; 95% CI 0.08 to 2.90). Some evidence for a decrease in dyspareunia was found at the end of treatment in women in the GnRH analogue group, although no evidence of a significant difference in dyspareunia was observed at the end of the six months follow up (OR 4.87; 95% CI 0.96 to 24.65). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The limited data we found available suggests that this is no evidence of a difference in outcomes between the the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) studied and GnRH analogue was as effective as a GnRH analogue in treating for endometriosis-associated painful symptoms of endometriosis. However, the lack of studies with larger sample sizes, or focusing on other comparable treatments is concerning and further research is needed to fully evaluate fully the role of OCPs oral contraceptive pills in managing symptoms associated with ement of endometriosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Cochrane Database Syst Rev

Publication Date



Contraceptives, Oral, Endometriosis, Female, Humans, Pelvic Pain