This is a sponsored collaboration with AbbVie. All opinions are my own and I have not taken Orilissa for my endometriosis pain.
I remember getting my first period at school in the 6th grade. I stuffed my underwear with tissue, went to the school nurse, and called my mom to pick me up due to pain and dizziness. From my early teenage years onwards, I suffered from unbearable cramps, heavy bleeding, muscle aches, nausea, and bloating every month, while repeatedly being told that it was simply part of being a woman. I often missed school because of the pain and was told that my heavy bleeding was not abnormal, while feeling sick soon became “my normal.” The only solution I could find to combat that pain was birth control and multiple doses of over-the-counter painkillers.
My symptoms continued into my early twenties, which was when I first learned about endometriosis from my doctor. When we spoke, endometriosis checked off every single symptom that I mentioned. One in 10 women of reproductive age in the U.S. suffer from endometriosis. Endometriosis is a painful and chronic disease that occurs when tissue, known as a lesion or implant, begins to grow outside of your uterus. These lesions or implants, which are stimulated by estrogen, can cause severe pain and inflammation throughout the month. Endometriosis lesions are most commonly found in organs within the pelvic area such as your ovaries, bladder, intestines, bowel, rectovaginal septum, and peritoneum. Women with endometriosis may suffer for up to six to ten years before receiving a proper diagnosis. There are many different symptoms of endometriosis and women may either experience a range of symptoms or none at all. Symptoms have been dismissed as “bad periods,” especially in younger women.
Current treatment options include medications, medical procedures or surgery. However, there have been a few endometriosis treatment advancements in recent years, one of which is ORILISSA® (elagolix), a prescription medication made for women 18-years-old and older with moderate to severe endometriosis pain. Orilissa is a daily pill available in two doses, and while I have not taken it for my endometriosis pain, as of October 2020, 60,000 women and counting have been prescribed this treatment option. Orilissa may not be for everyone. Do not use Orilissa if you are pregnant, have osteoporosis or severe liver disease, take medicines called organic anion transporting polypeptide (OATP) 1B1 inhibitors that are known or expected to significantly increase the blood levels of elagolix (the active ingredient in Orilissa), or have had a serious allergic reaction to Orilissa or any of the ingredients in Orilissa . Please see below for Indication and Important Safety Information. Please see the Full Prescribing Information, including the Medication Guide.
Orilissa was proven to reduce the three common types of endometriosis pain: painful periods, pelvic pain in between periods and pain with sex. If you are experiencing endometriosis pain, it’s important to let your doctor know so they can help you manage your symptoms. If you are ready for a change, I encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider about all your options, including Orilissa, especially if you have not yet found pain relief with your current treatment.
ORILISSA® (elagolix) is a prescription medicine used to treat moderate to severe pain associated with endometriosis. It is not known if ORILISSA is safe and effective in children.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
What is the most important information I should know about ORILISSA?
ORILISSA may cause serious side effects, including:
- Bone Loss (decreased Bone Mineral Density [BMD])
While you are taking ORILISSA, your estrogen levels will be low. This can lead to BMD loss. If you have bone loss on ORILISSA, your BMD may improve after stopping ORILISSA, but may not recover completely. It is unknown if these bone changes could increase your risk for broken bones as you age. For this reason, your healthcare provider (HCP) may limit the length of time you take ORILISSA. Your HCP may order a DXA scan to check your BMD.
- Effects on Pregnancy
Do not take ORILISSA if you are trying to become or are pregnant, as your risk for early pregnancy loss may increase. If you think you are pregnant, stop taking ORILISSA right away and call your HCP. ORILISSA may change your menstrual periods (irregular bleeding or spotting, a decrease in menstrual bleeding, or no bleeding at all), making it hard to know if you are pregnant. Watch for other signs of pregnancy, such as breast tenderness, weight gain, and nausea. ORILISSA does not prevent pregnancy. You will need to use effective hormone-free birth control (such as condoms or spermicide) while taking ORILISSA and for 28 days after stopping ORILISSA. Birth control pills that contain estrogen may make ORILISSA less effective. It is unknown how well ORILISSA works while on progestin-only birth control.
Do not take ORILISSA if you:
- Are pregnant, have osteoporosis, have severe liver disease, are taking medicines called organic anion transporting polypeptide (OATP) 1B1 inhibitors that are known or expected to significantly increase the blood levels of elagolix, the active ingredient in ORILISSA (ask your HCP if you are not sure if you are taking one of these medicines), or have had a serious allergic reaction to ORILISSA or any of the ingredients in ORILISSA. See the end of the Medication Guide for a complete list of ingredients in ORILISSA. Ask your HCP if you are not sure.
What should I tell my HCP before taking ORILISSA?
Tell your HCP about all of your medical conditions, including if you:
- Have or have had broken bones or other conditions that may cause bone problems; have or have had depression, mood problems, or suicidal thoughts or behavior; have liver problems; think you may be pregnant; or are breastfeeding or plan to be. It is unknown if ORILISSA passes into breast milk. Talk to your HCP about the best way to feed your baby if you take ORILISSA.
Tell your HCP about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Especially tell your HCP if you take birth control that contains hormones. Your HCP may advise you to change your method of birth control.
What are the possible side effects of ORILISSA?
ORILISSA can cause serious side effects including:
- Suicidal thoughts, actions, or behavior, and worsening of mood. Call your HCP or get emergency medical help right away if you have any of these symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or bother you: thoughts about suicide or dying, attempts to commit suicide, new or worse depression or anxiety, or other unusual changes in behavior or mood. You or your caregiver should pay attention to any changes, especially sudden changes in your mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings.
- Abnormal liver tests. Call your HCP right away if you have any of these signs and symptoms of liver problems: yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice), dark amber-colored urine, feeling tired, nausea and vomiting, generalized swelling, right upper stomach area pain, or bruising easily.
The most common side effects of ORILISSA include: hot flashes and night sweats, headache, nausea, difficulty sleeping, absence of periods, anxiety, joint pain, depression, and mood changes.
These are not all of the possible side effects of ORILISSA. This is the most important information to know about ORILISSA. For more information, talk to your HCP.
Take ORILISSA exactly as your HCP tells you. Tell your HCP if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
If you are having difficulty paying for your medicine, AbbVie may be able to help. Visit AbbVie.com/myAbbVieAssist to learn more.
Photo Credit: Marselle Washington