Medicines are one of the treatments used for heavy periods. A number of factors are considered when working out the best medicine for you.
The medicines below are used to reduce heavy periods. The choice of which treatment is recommended for you will depend on your need for birth control (contraception), whether you wish to have children in the future and other medical concerns you may have.
The Mirena IUD is a small plastic device that is inserted into your womb. It slowly releases a small amount of the progestogen hormone (as levonorgestrel) directly onto the lining of your womb. This makes the lining of your womb thinner, making you less likely to have menstrual bleeding and reducing heavy periods.
Once fitted, the Mirena lasts for up to 5 years. It can reduce menstrual (period) bleeding by up to 90%. It also acts as a contraceptive. However, it can cause irregular bleeding when first inserted. Read more about Mirena IUD for heavy periods.
Tranexamic acid are pills that can reduce the heaviness of period bleeding by almost half (40–50%). They work by reducing the breakdown of blood clots in your womb.
Tablets are taken for 3–5 days during each period. Side effects are usually minor and may include stomach upset. These tablets are not a contraceptive and can be taken by women who wish to conceive. Read more about tranexamic acid.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Examples of NSAIDs include mefenamic acid and ibuprofen. NSAIDs can reduce period bleeding by 20–50%. They work by reducing your body’s production of a hormone-like substance, called prostaglandin, which is linked to heavy periods. NSAIDs are also used to reduce period pain.
These tablets are not a contraceptive and can be taken by women who wish to conceive. Common side effects include indigestion and diarrhoea (runny poos). Read more about NSAIDs.
Combined oral contraceptive pill (COC)
The combined oral contraceptive pill, known as ‘the pill’, contains the hormones oestrogen and progestogen They reduce period bleeding by almost a third (30%) in some women. Read more about the combined oral contraceptive pill.
Long-acting progestogen contraceptives
Long-acting progesterone contraceptives, eg, the contraceptive injection (Depo-Provera), are helpful in treating heavy periods, as most women don't have any period bleeding after a few months. However, some women can have irregular bleeding as a side effect.
Medroxyprogesterone tablets (also called Provera) are taken during your period. They work by preventing the lining in your womb from growing quickly. Some common, short-term side effects of include weight gain, bloating, breast tenderness and headaches. Read more about medroxyprogesterone.
Heavy menstrual bleeding The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists