Advance with MUSC Health

New Treatments For Endometriosis Show Promising Results

Advance With MUSC Health
March 29, 2022
Emily Stonerock, M.D.

It’s a long name, but here’s the short of it: endometriosis is a painful disorder that occurs when the lining of the uterus grows outside the womb and attaches to surrounding organs.

Endometrial tissue can implant itself on ovaries, the bladder, the rectum, the pelvic lining, and even the chest cavity, causing pain, infertility and affecting intimate relationships, says Dr. Emily Stonerock, an ObGyn at MUSC Health – OB-GYN in Florence.

“It affects females from 18 to 45 years old and is mainly diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 40. As many as 10% of women in that age group have the condition,” Dr. Stonerock says.

Symptoms include pain near the time of a woman’s period, heavy menstrual flow, and lower back pain associated with sexual intercourse. It’s also one of the major causes of infertility. Pain, however, is not related to the condition’s severity. “Endometriosis is tricky. Some women will have terrible endometriosis and minimal pain, while others will have the opposite.”

Genetics is a factor. She says that a woman whose mother, sister, or cousin has endometriosis has a higher chance of developing the condition.

Although symptoms subside as a woman ages and produces less estrogen, the only absolute cure for endometriosis is removing the uterus and ovaries. Until recently, symptoms were treated with Tylenol and Ibuprofen, narcotics for severe pain, as well as birth control pills and the estrogen-suppressing Lupron.

Improved surgical techniques and oral therapies, however, have produced promising results.

Elagolix is an oral medication that suppresses estrogen production, a key factor in endometriosis. Released in 2018, Elagolix is prescribed daily for up to 2 years only because of its potential side effects, such as bone density loss and loss of a period.

Robotic laparoscopy surgery has changed how endometriosis is treated and is becoming more accessible, Stonerock said. Unlike open surgery involving a large incision, a robot, through 4 tiny incisions on the abdomen, mimics what a surgeon’s hands can do in robotic surgery.

“The robot can see 10 times what the human eye can see and allows us to see lesions or masses close to blood vessels or important structures and remove them,” Dr. Stonerock says. Now that we can do robotic surgery, patients can go home the same day. They have less downtime and a faster recovery.”

Because only about 40% of women with endometriosis are diagnosed, Dr. Stonerock encourages women with severe pain to seek treatment. MUSC Health – OB-GYN is an established practice of more than 40 years and is staffed by 6 female doctors and 2 physician assistants.

“We provide local care for our local community,” she says. “Patients have the best of both worlds with convenience and care by local doctors and access to a world-class medical center.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Emily Stonerock please call 843-665-9581, or visit MUSC Health Florence Medical Center.