Doxycycline can prevent progression of endometriosis


Endometriosis is a common, difficult disease to have.   Approximately 10% of women of reproductive age suffer from endometriosis.  Symptoms can be anything from painful periods to chronic pelvic pain that interferes with a normal daily routine.


The endometrium is a thick layer of tissue that lines the inside of the uterus. Sometimes, endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus, such as on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and tissues surrounding the reproductive system. This can lead to chronic pelvic pain, especially during menstruation. Other symptoms include cramping, painful sex, and dysuria. Because the endometrial tissue can react to our body’s natural hormones, it may “bleed” during menstruation. Menstrual fluid can accumulate in the body cavities, and without an exit, can lead to an inflammatory response. Furthermore, pain can be localized to areas where this tissue adheres to organs and links other organs together. An unfortunate side effect of endometriosis is infertility – 40% of women who have the conditions are also infertile. Studies suggest that there are an estimated 10.8 million people who suffer from endometriosis around the world. 


The main treatment for endometriosis is through hormonal contraception. It’s been shown that women who are on the combination pill tend to have a reduction in pelvic pain. Some women elect to have laparoscopic surgery done in order to remove the endometrial tissue. However, there are cases where the endometriosis tissue returns even after surgery.  There is also a newly released drug, Orilissa, that also has shown success in women who’ve failed previous treatments.


Recently, a study published in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology showed that the common antibiotic doxycycline may help prevent endometriosis progression. Doxycycline inhibits MMP enzymes which are important in regulating organ development. MMP levels were increased in endometriosis tissue compared to normal tissue. When the researchers treated endometriosis cells collected from patients with doxycycline, the number of cells decreased by up to 78%. Then, the research team added progesterone in combination with doxycycline and found that it further decreased the levels of MMP activation. 


With this new discovery, researchers demonstrated that this common antimicrobial drug could be used as a non-hormonal way to prevent endometriosis progression, especially after surgery.  We hope this leads to even more treatment options for women suffering from this all to common disease.

If you think you may have endometriosis, or know you have it but don’t feel your pain is controlled, come in to see your gynecologist to talk about what other options are available to you.


El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems.   Drs. Amy TengErika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery.   Dr. Erika Balassiano has also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.


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