Which medications work best for menorrhagia?
Q: Which medications work best for menorrhagia? Evidence-based answer: Four medications have been shown to reduce menstrual blood loss (MBL) significantly in placebo-controlled randomized controlled trials (RCTs): the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS), tranexamic acid, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and danazol, a synthetic steroid (strength of recommendation: A, meta-analyses of RCTs). A single trial showed that the LNGIUS reduced MBL by about 100 mL, compared with placebo. In a meta-analysis of 4 placebo-controlled RCTs, tranexamic acid reduced MBL by about 53 mL, roughly a 40% to 50% decrease. The 8 NSAID trials (5 mefenamic acid, 2 naproxen, 1 ibuprofen) demonstrated effectiveness, but the effect size is difficult to quantify. The single danazol RCT used a subjective scoring system without reporting MBL. No studies compared all effective medical therapies against one another. In head-to-head comparisons, women were more likely to experience improvement with the LNG-IUS than with tranexamic acid (number needed to treat [NNT] = 2 to 6). Both treatments are superior to NSAIDs. Danazol is also more efficacious than NSAIDs, but its use is limited by its adverse effects, including teratogenicity. No placebo-controlled trials have studied oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) or oral progesterone to treat menorrhagia. However, multiple comparative RCTs have demonstrated that these commonly prescribed medications significantly decrease MBL. Trials have shown the reduction to be inferior to LNG-IUS and danazol and equivalent to NSAIDs.
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