Objective: To undertake quantitative overviews of the following commonly used treatments for endometriosis-associated infertility: ovulation suppression, laparoscopic ablation, and conservative laparotomy.
Design: A protocol was prospectively defined detailing the research question, mode of study identification, inclusion and exclusion, data extraction, and pooling methods. Studies were assessed for relevance and validity by independent reviewers and their findings compared. Data were extracted in a similar fashion.
Patients: Women with visually diagnosed endometriosis, complaining of infertility.
Main outcome measure: Pregnancy as defined by positive pregnancy test.
Results: Twenty-five relevant randomized controlled trials and cohort studies were identified with a total of 37 treatment comparisons. The common odds ratio (OR) from seven studies comparing ovulation suppression (danazol, medroxyprogesterone acetate [MPA], or gestrinone) versus placebo or no treatment was 0.85, suggesting no treatment benefit. The common OR for pregnancy after ovulation suppression (MPA, gestrinone, or GnRH agonist) versus danazol was also nonsignificant: 1.07. Although pooled data from trials of laparoscopic surgery suggested a treatment benefit, significant heterogeneity between studies undermines this conclusion. Laparoscopic data were similar to those from conservative laparotomy studies. Studies assessing conservative surgery plus danazol versus danazol alone showed no significant benefit from this adjunct.
Conclusion: Ovulation suppression is an ineffective treatment for endometriosis-associated infertility. Well-designed trials of laparoscopic ablation deserve a high priority.