Menstrual drug ineffective

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The Independent Online
Increasing numbers of women are having hysterectomies because the most common drug prescribed for menstrual problems does not work, an expert reports. Women are paying a heavy price by undergoing a surgical procedure that they do not need, said Stephen Smith, professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Rosie Maternity Hospital, Cambridge.

More than 73,000 hysterectomies were carried out on women in England in 1992-93 and figures show that the number is rising. The operation is one of the most common, second only to Caesarians. On current rates at least one in five women will have their wombs removed before the age of 65.

More than 350,000 women were prescribed drugs to control heavy periods - the chief reason for hysterectomy - in 1993 but four out of 10 received the hormone progestogen which has a minimal effect reducing blood loss by up to 20 per cent and in some cases increasing bleeding. Other drugs such as mefanamic acid and tranexamic acid reduce blood loss by up to 60 per cent.

Almost a third of women of childbearing age suffer heavy periods but GPs may be inadvertently encouraging them to undergo surgery by prescribing ineffective treatments. A survey of 200 GPs, conducted for the Task Force to Improve the Management of Mennhorrhagia, found that 70 per cent said they would consider using progestogen.