Hormone therapy

Contraceptive pill/injection or intrauterine hormone device (coil) e.g. Mirena

The contraceptive pill and injections and hormonal coils e.g. Mirena, are intended as contraceptives. However, because of the hormones, they also have an effect on heavy bleeding and are often the treatment options first prescribed by GPs for heavy periods (menorrhagia). Hormone treatments with oestrogen and/or progestin (the pharmaceutical replacement for progesterone) can make the lining of the uterus thinner and thus reduce menstrual bleeding. The pills are taken orally daily, an injection is needed every 12 weeks, while the coil will need to be inserted by a GP or specialist nurse.

Hormone therapy also provides contraception and can be stopped, making it a good option if you are planning to have children in the future. Your heavy periods will return if you stop using your hormone therapy.

Taking Hormonal Therapy

Hormonal therapy is not right for every woman and your GP will discuss your personal circumstances with you before prescribing it. For example it is not recommended if you have a history of cardiovascular disease or blood clots; a family history of breast cancer or if you are over the age of 35.

If you are suitable for hormone therapy, it can take three to four cycles before it affects your periods. You may also experience side effects, such as breakthrough bleeding, painful breasts, acne, weight gain, and bloating. Other effects include headache, nausea, loss of libido and/or moodiness.

Breakthrough bleeding is one of the main reasons women stop taking the contraceptive pill with around 50% continuing to have heavy blood loss. This figure is considerably lower among those who use a hormonal coil.

Benefits

  • Suitable for women who wish to have children in the future
  • Reduces bleeding
  • Taken by mouth or injection
  • Also functions as contraception
  • Is not permanent

Disadvantages

  • Risk of side effects
  • Pills must be taken daily
  • Injections are needed every 12 weeks
  • It can take 3-6 months for treatment to take effect
  • It can take 6-12 months before you can get pregnant (injections)
  • 3-5 yearly replacement of coil

Features

  • For

    Period pain, heavy bleeding

  • Treatment type

    Pills, injection or inserted into the womb (coil)

  • Treatment duration

    Ongoing

  • Conception

    Still possible if stopped

  • Recovery time

    Not applicable

  • Success rate

    Contraceptive pill 50% Coil 60%

Frequently Asked Questions about Heavy periods

  • What is hormone therapy?

    The contraceptive pill and injections and hormonal coils e.g. Mirena, are intended as contraceptives. However, because of the hormones, they also have an effect on heavy bleeding and are often the treatment options first prescribed by GPs for heavy periods (menorrhagia). Hormone treatments with oestrogen and/or progestin (the pharmaceutical replacement for progesterone) can make the lining of the uterus thinner and thus reduce menstrual bleeding.

* Stock Photo. Posed by model

1 IN 5 WOMEN SUFFER WITH HEAVY PERIODS

1 IN 5 WOMEN SUFFER WITH HEAVY PERIODS About 20% of women suffer from heavy periods (menorrhagia). It’s not always possible to identify a cause and the symptoms vary too. If heavy periods are taking over your life, it’s time to do something about it. Because you can.

Read More
Talk to your GP

Talk to your GP

Be prepared! Make sure you get the most out of your GP appointment. Complete the questionnaire and period diary, it will help your GP understand your problem, so you can get the right treatment, quickly.

Read more
Experiences
    • Donna (47) Had anaemia due to heavy periods
      “On some occasions I would literally be in and out of the toilet for hours on end. I am normally such a confident, sociable person that I found being in this situation totally alien to me and highly embarrassing.”
    • Maria (51) Periods changed following childbirth
      "I was at my wits end. I experienced terrible back and abdominal pain that no pain killers could alleviate. I experienced heavy menstrual bleeding practically non-stop for a whole month and was feeling drained, miserable and snappy, so I finally went to see my GP”
    • Vera (32) Her periods changed completely after childbirth
      “I did not know what had hit me when I had my first period after childbirth. My periods were suddenly very heavy, there was blood everywhere. It felt as though I was having contractions, even though that was naturally impossible.”
    • Monique (44) Is able to run and swim again after treatment
      “I had been unhappy about my periods for years. I would always experience heavy bleeding for a week and, on top of that, my cycle was 21 days long, a lot shorter than most women.”
    Close menu