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.