Postmenopausal endometriosis is a gynecologic disease, affecting 2–5% of postmenopausal woman. Current literature assessing the prevalence, pathogenesis, and treatment of this uncommon condition is limited, stressing the necessity for future research. This review examines the current literature on postmenopausal endometriosis to help inform clinical decision-making and point to novel approaches for treatment and management.
Although one unifying theory to explain the pathogenesis of endometriotic lesions has not been elucidated, estrogen dependence is central to the pathophysiological process. The total quantity of estrogen production is mediated by multiple enzymes in complex pathways. Recent studies have confirmed the presence of these necessary enzymes in endometriotic lesions thereby suggesting a local source of estrogen and a likely pathogenic contributor. More research is needed to fully elucidate the mechanism of local estrogen biosynthesis; however, the current data provide possible explanations for the presence of postmenopausal endometriosis in an otherwise systemically hypoestrogenic environment.
All suspected endometriosis lesions should be surgically excised for optimization of treatment and prevention of malignant transformation. If hormone replacement therapy is initiated, combined estrogen and progestin is recommended, even in the setting of previous hysterectomy, given the risk of disease reactivation and malignant transformation of endometriotic lesions. Further research is needed to understand the true prevalence, cause, and progression in this patient demographic. Histologic studies evaluating tissue lesions and peritoneal fluid for estrogen receptors, estrogen metabolizing enzymes, immune cells, and nerve fibers will aide in clinical management and treatment planning.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Erlanger Hospital, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Correspondence to Camille Ladanyi, MD, Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellow, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Erlanger Hospital, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, 979 E 3rd St #725, Chattanooga, TN 37403, USA. Tel: +1 423 778 2580; fax: +1 423 778 7489; e-mail: email@example.com