This tissue outside the uterus acts the same as it normally would in the uterus by thickening, being released, and bleeding when you have your menstrual cycle. But instead of coming out of your body, it gets trapped inside.
Lupron Depot is a prescription medication that is injected into the body every month or every three months to help reduce endometriosis pain and complications.
Lupron was originally developed as a treatment for those with advanced prostate cancer, but it’s become a very common and usually effective treatment for endometriosis.
Lupron works by reducing the overall levels of estrogen in the body. Estrogen is what causes the tissues inside the uterus to grow.
When you first begin treatment with Lupron, the estrogen levels in your body increase for one or two weeks. Some women experience a worsening of their symptoms during this time.
After a few weeks, your estrogen levels will decrease, stopping ovulation and your period. At this point, you should experience relief from your endometriosis pain and symptoms.
Lupron has been found to reduce endometrial pain in the pelvis and abdomen. It’s been prescribed to treat endometriosis since 1990.
Doctors discovered that women taking Lupron had reduced formation of hardened endometrial tissue and lesions after monthly treatment when taken for six months.
Additionally, Lupron has been found to reduce pain during sexual intercourse when taken for at least six months.
According to researchers, its efficacy is similar to that of danazol, a testosterone medication that can also reduce estrogen in the body to ease endometrial pain and symptoms.
Danazol is rarely used today because it has been found to cause many unpleasant side effects, such as increased body hair, acne, and weight gain.
Lupron is considered a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonist because it blocks production of estrogen in the body to reduce endometriosis symptoms.
While Lupron may stop your period, it’s not a method of reliable birth control. Without protection, you may become pregnant on Lupron.
To avoid drug interactions and potential pregnancy, use nonhormonal methods of birth control such as condoms, a diaphragm, or a copper IUD.
Lupron is commonly used during fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Your doctor may have you take it to prevent ovulation before harvesting eggs from your body for fertilization.
Lupron can also be used to increase the efficacy of certain fertility drugs. Usually, you take it for a few days before starting injectable fertility medications.
While efficacy studies are limited, a small amount of older research suggests taking Lupron may significantly improve fertilization rates when used during fertility treatments like IVF.
Any drug that alters the body’s hormones carries a risk of side effects. When used alone, Lupron may cause:
- bone thinning
- decreased libido
- headaches and migraine
- hot flashes/hot sweats
- nausea and vomiting
- weight gain
Lupron is taken by injection monthly in a 3.75-mg dose or once every three months in a 11.25-mg dose.
To reduce risk of Lupron’s side effects, your doctor may prescribe progestin “add-back” therapy. This is a pill taken daily to help manage some side effects without affecting Lupron’s efficacy.
Not everyone on Lupron should try add-back therapy. Avoid add-back therapy if you have:
- a clotting disorder
- heart disease
- history of stroke
- reduced liver function or liver disease
- breast cancer
Lupron can provide great relief from endometriosis for some women. However, everyone is different. Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor to help determine if Lupron is the right treatment for you:
- Is Lupron a long-term treatment for my endometriosis?
- Will Lupron affect my ability to have children in the long term?
- Should I take add-back therapy to reduce side effects from Lupron?
- What alternative therapies to Lupron should I try first?
- What signs should I look for to know my Lupron prescription is affecting my body normally?
Be sure to notify your doctor if you experience severe pain or if your regular menstruation persists while you’re taking Lupron. If you miss several doses in a row or are late to take your next dose, you may experience breakthrough bleeding.
Additionally, Lupron doesn’t protect you from pregnancy. Contact your doctor right away if you know or think you’re pregnant.