Chinese medicine prevents recurrence and improves fertility after endometriosis surgery

A Chinese research group has shown that treatment with Chinese herbal medicines (CHMs) can prevent the recurrence of endometriosis and improve the conception rate in women who have undergone surgery for endometriosis.

Two hundred and four patients were randomly divided into two groups. Patients in the CHM group were treated using one of three types of CHMs, based on individual syndrome differentiation. Patients in the Western medicine (WM) group were treated using gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist (GnRH-a) or gestrinone. Patients with stage I and II endometriosis were treated for three months, while the patients with stage III and IV disease were treated for six months. The incidence and timing of recurrence of endometriosis were not found to be significantly different between the two groups.

However, the first pregnancy achieved by a patient in the CHM group was significantly earlier than that in the WM group. In addition, the incidence of adverse reactions in the WM group was significantly higher than in the CHM group. (Controlling the recurrence of pelvic endometriosis after a conservative operation: Comparison between Chinese herbal medicine and western medicine. Chin J Integr Med. 2012 Dec 22. [Epub ahead of print]).

In a related study, the same researchers found that CHM treatment is more effective than WM for improving patients’ quality of life (QOL) after conservative surgery for endometriosis. A total of 320 patients with endometriosis received conservative surgery and were randomised into two groups.

The CHM group received treatment aimed at activating blood circulation and removing blood stasis based on TCM syndrome differentiation. The WM group received GnRH-a or gestrinone. Treatment was given for three to six months. In the CHM group, physical, psychological and environmental scores post-treatment were higher than those at pre-treatment. For 12 criteria (pain and discomfort, energy and fatigue, sleep and rest, mobility, activities of daily living, work capacity, negative feelings, health and social care: accessibility and quality, participation in and opportunities for recreation/leisure activities, appetite, QOL score, overall health status and QOL), the pre- versus post-test difference in scores was significant.

In the WM group, four criteria (pain and discomfort, opportunities for acquiring new information and skills, QOL score, overall health status and QOL) had significantly different scores post-treatment compared with pre-treatment. After treatment, the scores for physical health in the CHM group were significantly higher than those of the WM group and the scores of four criteria (mobility, activities of daily living, sexual activity and QOL score) in the CHM group were significantly higher than those in the WM group. (Chinese medicine improves postoperative quality of life in endometriosis patients: a randomized controlled trial. Chin J Integr Med. 2013 Jan;19(1):15-21).