Primary gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist therapy for suspected endometriosis: a nonsurgical approach to the diagnosis and treatment of chronic pelvic pain

Am J Manag Care. 1997 Feb;3(2):285-90.


Chronic pelvic pain is a condition that affects one in seven women of reproductive age in the United States. Direct and indirect medical costs associated with this condition are estimated to be more than $3 billion annually before factoring in the costs of diagnostic testing. At many medical centers, endometriosis is the most common single cause of chronic pelvic pain; other causes include intra-abdominal adhesions, chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts, and adenomyosis. The current approach to diagnosis and treatment of chronic pelvic pain is a two-step approach, with medical history, physical examination, laboratory testing, and empiric therapy (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral contraceptives, and/or antibiotics) comprising Step 1 and surgical diagnosis with laparoscopy as Step 2. At many centers, the most common diagnosis at the time of laparoscopy for chronic pelvic pain is endometriosis, typically minimal to mild disease that can be effectively treated with hormonal therapy. Therefore, a rational alternative approach is a 3-month empiric course of therapy with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist before laparoscopy. The advantages of this approach are the high rate of pain relief in women, the possibility of avoiding an invasive procedure (laparoscopy), the ability to extend therapy, if pain is relieved, to the full 6-month therapeutic course of endometriosis, and a potentially lower cost relative to laparoscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / economics
  • Cost of Illness
  • Endometriosis / complications
  • Endometriosis / diagnosis*
  • Endometriosis / therapy
  • Female
  • Hormone Antagonists / economics
  • Hormone Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / economics*
  • Leuprolide / economics
  • Leuprolide / therapeutic use*
  • Managed Care Programs
  • Pelvic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pelvic Pain / etiology
  • United States


  • Hormone Antagonists
  • Leuprolide