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HealthInfo Canterbury

Treatment options for heavy periods

Once your doctor or gynaecologist has confirmed you don't have any serious cause for your heavy periods, they may discuss some treatment options to control the bleeding. You may need to trial a few options to find the right solution for you, and some women can trial more than one option at a time.

If you are under 21, your general practice appointment in Canterbury may be free. Discuss this with your general practice. Family Planning also has subsidised care options. Please call Family Planning on (03) 379-0514 for further advice.

Some common and recommended treatment options are listed below.

Non-hormonal options

Tranexamic acid helps to reduce your bleeding. You start taking it on the first day of heavy bleeding and keep taking it until your bleeding settles down. You shouldn't take the tablets for more than five days in a row.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help with pain and reduce blood flow. They work to reduce chemicals, made in the uterus, that cause pain and bleeding. If you are using these, you should start taking them at the beginning of your period and continue until heavy blood loss has stopped. It is important to take NSAIDs with food and to see your general practice team if you get any indigestion or nausea.

Hormonal options

For a summary of these options, read Pharmaceutical treatment options for heavy menstrual bleeding. You might also find Family Planning free resources helpful.

Surgical options

Surgery is only used to treat your heavy periods if the treatments above have not worked.

One surgical option is called endometrial ablation. This is a small operation that is done in the hospital. The lining of the uterus is destroyed so that you get little or no bleeding during your periods. You can either be awake or have an anaesthetic for this operation, and you can usually get back to doing your normal activities a few days after the operation.

This surgery is only an option if you do not want to get pregnant in the future. After the surgery, most women will not be able to get pregnant again. But in a few women a small amount of tissue is unintentionally left behind, making it possible for them to become pregnant. Because any lining that is left behind is abnormal, this can lead to problems in pregnancy. For this reason you still need to take contraception after the operation to make sure you do not get pregnant.

The other surgical option is a hysterectomy where the whole uterus is removed. It can take six weeks to recover from this operation.

Note: Sometimes heavy bleeding causes low iron in the body. Your doctor will take a blood test if there is concern. You may be asked to take iron tablets for a few months to restore your iron levels. The iron tablets do not treat the heavy bleeding, they treat the low iron caused by the heavy bleeding.

On the next page: More information about heavy or irregular periods

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed March 2016.

See also:

Iron

Page reference: 45839

Review key: HIHPE-15976