Interventions for women with endometrioma prior to assisted reproductive technology

Endometriomata are a form of ovarian endometriosis, classified as cysts within the ovaries. They are a common cause of subfertility and pelvic pain. This review aimed to determine which treatment approach was better for women with subfertility and endometriomata who were undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART). Four trials were identified. A gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist showed a positive treatment effect on the ovarian response to controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) and the number of mature oocytes retrieved compared to GnRH antagonist. The evidence for surgery was limited but aspiration was associated with a greater ovarian response than expectant management (a wait and see approach). Further randomised controlled trials of interventions for the management of endometrioma in women undergoing ART are required.

Authors' conclusions: 

There was no evidence of an effect on reproductive outcomes in any of the four included trials. Further RCTs of management of endometrioma in women undergoing ART are required.

Read the full abstract...

Endometriomata are cysts of endometriosis in the ovaries. As artificial reproductive technology (ART) cycles involve oocyte pickup from the ovaries, endometriomata may interfere with the outcome of ART.


To determine the effectiveness and safety of surgery, medical treatment, combination therapy or no treatment for improving reproductive outcomes among women with endometriomata, prior to undergoing ART cycles.

Search strategy: 

The review authors searched: Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group Specialised Register of trials, CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library), EMBASE, MEDLINE, PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL, DARE, trial registers for ongoing and registered trials, citation indexes, conference abstracts on the ISI Web of Knowledge, Clinical Study Results, OpenSIGLE (July 2010) and handsearched Fertility and Sterility (2008 to 2010).

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials of any medical, surgical or combination therapy or expectant management for endometriomata prior to ART.

Data collection and analysis: 

The trials were independently identified and assessed for risk of bias by two authors. The authors of the trials that were potentially eligible for inclusion were contacted for additional information. Outcomes were expressed as Peto odds ratios and mean differences (MD).

Main results: 

Eleven trials were identified of which seven were excluded and four with 312 participants were included.

No trial reported live birth outcomes. One trial compared gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist with GnRH antagonist. There was no evidence of a difference for clinical pregnancy rate (CPR), however the number of mature oocytes retrieved (NMOR) was greater with GnRH agonists (MD -1.60, 95% CI -2.44 to -0.76) and the ovarian response was increased (estradiol (E2) levels on day of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) injection) (MD -456.30, 95% CI -896.06 to -16.54).

Surgery (aspiration or cystectomy) versus expectant management (EM) showed no evidence of a benefit for clinical pregnancy with either technique. Aspiration was associated with greater NMOR (MD 0.50, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.98) and increased ovarian response (E2 levels on day of hCG injection) (MD 685.3, 95% CI 464.50 to 906.10) compared to EM.Cystectomy was associated with a decreased ovarian response to controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) (MD -510.00, 95% CI -676.62 to -343.38); no evidence of an effect on the NMOR compared to EM. Aspiration versus cystectomy showed no evidence of a difference in CPR or the NMOR.