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Simple Treatment for Common Female Complaint Works, say Researchers

Tim Boyer's picture
Women's health

Abnormally heavy bleeding during a woman’s normal monthly cycle is one problem many women face every month that until recently has evaded any FDA-approved products. While not necessarily life-threatening, it can interfere with maintaining normal health and quality of life issues.

According to a press release issued by the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, Anita L. Nelson, MD, a LA BioMed lead investigator and corresponding author of the study states that, "Excessive uterine bleeding is a common problem we see in gynecological practices and emergency rooms. It can interfere with women's daily activities and put them at risk for anemia and other more serious health consequences caused by blood loss."

However, according to research performed by her and her colleagues at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and recently published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a new and effective treatment can be as simple as having a single progesterone injection followed by 3 days of taking progesterone pills.

In the pilot study, 48 non-pregnant, premenopausal women who suffered from acute abnormal uterine bleeding were given an intramuscular injection of 150 milligrams of a progestogen drug called “Depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate” (DMPA) and then instructed to take a second progestogen drug called “medroxyprogesterone acetate” (MPA) in 20 milligram doses orally every 8 hours for 3 days following the injection.

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What the researchers found was that within five days of receiving the therapy, 44 of the 48 women had complete cessation of bleeding while the bleeding in the remaining 4 women reduced to a relatively light spotting.

"This is the largest prospective study to date to measure the effectiveness of a proposed hormonal treatment for excessive uterine bleeding," says Dr. Nelson. "The women in the study experienced excellent success with this relatively low dose progestogen-only therapy. This therapy also has the potential for offering longer-term protection than prior therapies."

Progestogen is a steroid hormone produced by the ovaries and the placenta that plays an important role in maintaining a pregnancy. It is often used in birth control devices and is part of a woman’s normal monthly cycle where a dip in progestogen levels precipitates normal menses.

According to Dr. Nelson, this progestogen treatment offers an effective therapy until other therapies are discovered that target the causes of excessive bleeding. She states that the progestogen regimen they discovered has "good compliance, few side effects and high patient satisfaction."

Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile

Reference: “A New Progestogen-Only Medical Therapy for Outpatient Management of Acute, Abnormal Uterine Bleeding: A Pilot Study” American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (11 February 2013); Stacy R. Ammerman, DO and Anita L. Nelson, MD.