Uterine Fibroids - Medications
Medicine can be used to help relieve
uterine fibroid problems. The goals of medicine
treatment are to:
- Relieve severe pain or other symptoms caused by
anemia caused by heavy bleeding.
fibroids before fibroid removal (myomectomy) or uterus removal (hysterectomy).
- Avoid hysterectomy.
When treatment is stopped, symptoms usually return.
The following medicines are used to relieve heavy
menstrual bleeding, anemia, or painful periods—they do not shrink
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) therapy relieves menstrual cramping and
greatly reduces heavy menstrual bleeding for many women. But there are no
studies that show that NSAIDs reduce fibroid pain or bleeding.2
- Birth control hormones (pill, patch, or ring) reduce heavy menstrual periods and pain while
preventing pregnancy. But they usually do not affect the size of uterine
- An intrauterine device (IUD) that releases small amounts of a certain hormone (levonorgestrel) into the uterus may reduce heavy menstrual bleeding.
progestin shot (Depo-Provera) every 3 months may
lighten your bleeding. It also prevents pregnancy. Based on studies,
progestin may improve fibroids or may make them grow.3 This might be different for each
- Iron supplements, available without a prescription, are an
important part of correcting
anemia caused by fibroid blood loss.
The following medicine is used to shrink fibroids before
surgery and to temporarily relieve symptoms:
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogue (GnRH-a) therapy puts the body in a state like
menopause, which shrinks the uterus and fibroids.
GnRH-a therapy should be used for only a few months, because it can weaken the
bones. It may also cause unpleasant menopausal symptoms. Fibroids grow back
after GnRH-a therapy is stopped.5
Ulipristal (Fibristal) is used to treat moderate to severe symptoms of fibroids in women who are planning to have surgery. This medicine should not be used for more than 3 months.
- Uterine Fibroids: Should I Use GnRH-A Therapy?
What to think about
If you have pain or heavy
menstrual bleeding, it may be from a bleeding uterine fibroid. But it may also
be linked to a
menstrual cycle problem that can be improved with
birth control hormones and/or NSAID therapy. For more information, see the
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.
GnRH-a therapy is sometimes used to stop
bleeding and improve anemia. But taking iron supplements
can also improve anemia and does not cause the troublesome side effects and
bone weakening that can happen with GnRH-a therapy.