Endometriosis or Endo (as it is commonly called), is a condition that many infertile women suffer from. However, the connect between infertility and endometriosis is very complex. Endometriosis is an enigmatic disorder which affects women of reproductive age. It occurs when the normal endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus) actually grows outside the uterus. The misplaced tissue might just implant itself & grow anywhere inside the abdominal cavity.

Most specialists are of the opinion that it’s more likely for endometriosis to be found in infertile women who have had a delayed pregnancy. This is also why this condition is also dubbed as “the career woman’s disease”. Regardless of whether the endometrial tissue is within or outside the uterus, it responds to the ebb and tide of estrogen and progesterone that the ovaries produce in the course of the reproductive cycle. This tissue swells under the influences of these hormones.

When there is a dip in the hormonal levels, there might be bleeding from this tissue. Typically, the endometrium that is situated where it is meant to be gets shed as menstrual discharge. However, this tissue and blood has absolutely no outlet. It continues to stay within the body and irritates the surrounding tissue.

What is Danazol?

Danazol is a synthetic hormone; it used to be very commonly prescribed as a treatment for endometriosis. It suppresses the brain's production of follicle stimulating hormones, which results in suppressing ovarian function. This is very similar to artificial menopause and the endometrium in the uterus shrinks (therefore there will be no period). In addition, it also shrinks the patches of misplaced endometrium that are found in the patients who have this condition and eventually, these patches disappear.

The side effects

There are some side effects to Dynazol such as:

  • Hot flushes
  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Hirsutism (hairiness)

All these side-effects are very troublesome and they can also be the reason why some women have to discontinue using this particular medication. Typically, if you are taking Danazol, your periods will also stop completely – this is called pseudomenopause.

Dose: The standard dose used to be 800 mg daily (4 tablets of 200 mg each).

The side effects

However, there are significant side-effects at this dosage. Many doctors have also reported good results with doses as low as 200 mg daily.  Typically, thus treatment course lasts for 6-9 months after which the doctor reviews the improvement in endometriosis. Danazol is useful to suppress endometriosis lesions; it’s not useful to treat endometriosis in infertile women. Ovulation is suppresses when Danazol is being used.

The only thing this treatment achieves is a temporary suppression of lesions. Once the Danazol is discontinued, the endometriosis resurfaces. This is exactly why it isn’t used to treat infertile women, any longer. It doesn’t help improve pregnancy rates.

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Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.

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