If you see your doctor about your heavy periods, they’ll likely start by prescribing one of the following medications:
Birth Control Methods
Pills, Patches, and Rings
Birth control pills, patches, and rings are different forms of hormonal birth control.
Hormonal birth control thins the uterine lining, typically resulting in less menstrual bleeding. It may also relieve other period symptoms, such as painful cramps.
You generally use the pill, patch, or ring for 21 days, and then take 7 days off for menstruation. Newer birth control pills can provide a continuous dose of hormones throughout the month, resulting in fewer or no periods.
Common side effects of the pill and other hormonal methods include:
- sore breasts
- mood changes
- bleeding or spotting between periods
- weight gain
Birth Control Shot
The Depo-Provera shot is another form of hormonal birth control. Instead of self-administering it like you would with the pill or patch, your doctor will inject the medication into your arm or buttock.
This medication must be administered once every 3 months to remain effective.
Hormonal Intrauterine Device (IUD)
An IUD is a small device placed inside the uterus to prevent conception. Depending on the brand, a hormonal IUD — like Mirena — can be effective for 3 to 5 years.
Copper IUDs aren’t recommended for this purpose.
Tranexamic Acid (Lysteda)
Lysteda is an antifibrinolytic tablet. It reduces bleeding by preventing your body from breaking down clots.
You only need to take it for a few days each month, but it won’t prevent you from getting pregnant like birth control drugs. Side effects include muscle cramps and headaches.
Aygestin is a pill containing the hormone progestin. Women with very heavy bleeding can take a 5-milligram dose, two times a day, from day 5 to 26 of their menstrual cycle.
Its side effects are similar to that of hormonal birth control methods.
Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Agonists
These drugs are used to temporarily treat heavy bleeding caused by endometriosis and uterine fibroids. They come in an injectable form and a nasal spray.
GnRH agonists shouldn’t be used for more than 3 to 6 months. Side effects, which may worsen over time, include:
- hot flashes
- weakened bones