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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Oct 17;(4):CD000400.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for heavy menstrual bleeding.

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  • 1University of Auckland, O&G FMHS, Grafton Rd, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand, 1142.



Heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) is an important cause of ill health in premenopausal women. Although surgery is often used as a treatment, a range of medical therapies are also available. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce prostaglandin levels which are elevated in women with excessive menstrual bleeding and also may have a beneficial effect on dysmenorrhoea.


The primary objective of this review was to investigate the effectiveness of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in achieving a reduction in menstrual blood loss in women of reproductive years HMB.


We searched the Cochrane Menstrual Disorders & Subfertility Group trials register (searched April 2007), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2007), MEDLINE (1966 to April 2007), EMBASE (1985 to April 2007), CINAHL (1982 to April 2007), Current Contents (1993 to April 2007) and reference lists of articles. We also contacted manufacturers and researchers in the field.


The inclusion criteria were randomised comparisons of individual NSAIDs with either each other, placebo or other medical treatments in women with regular heavy periods measured either objectively or subjectively and with no pathological or iatrogenic (treatment induced) causes for their heavy menstrual blood loss.


Seventeen RCTs were identified that fulfilled the inclusion criteria for this review and data were extracted independently. Odds ratios for dichotomous outcomes and weighted mean differences for continuous outcomes were estimated from the data of nine trials. The results of the remaining seven crossover trials with data unsuitable for pooling and one trial with skewed data were described in the Other Data section.


As a group, NSAIDs were more effective than placebo at reducing heavy menstrual bleeding but less effective than either tranexamic acid, danazol or the levonorgestrel releasing intrauterine system (LNG IUS). Treatment with danazol caused a shorter duration of menstruation and more adverse events than NSAIDs but this did not appear to affect the acceptability of treatment. There were no statistically significant differences between NSAIDs and the other treatments (oral luteal progestogen, ethamsylate, an older progesterone releasing intra-uterine system (Progestasert), oral contraceptive pill (OCC)) but most studies were underpowered. There was no evidence of a difference between the individual NSAIDs (naproxen and mefenamic acid) in reducing HMB.


NSAIDs reduce HMB when compared with placebo but are less effective than either tranexamic acid, danazol or LNG IUS. However, adverse events are more severe with danazol therapy. In the limited number of small studies suitable for evaluation, no significant difference in efficacy was demonstrated between NSAIDs and other medical treatments such as oral luteal progestogen, ethamsylate, OCC or another type of IUS, Progestasert.

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