New £5 drug could ease agony of heavy periods for millions, docs discover

A CHEAP steroid drug could help millions of women who suffer from heavy periods, doctors have discovered.

Dexamethasone has been used throughout the coronavirus pandemic to treat patients and costs just £5 per person.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have now found that women with menorrhagia could also benefit from the drug.

Menorrhagia might not always have underlying causes, but for some people it can result from issues such as fibroids or endometriosis.

Heavy bleeding can differ from woman to woman, but a good indicator is if you're needing to change your sanitary product frequently and if you're bleeding through your clothes or bedding.

Prolonged bleeding affects around one in five women and can be debiliatating for many.

The use of dexamethasone could give hope to millions of women that suffer with the condition.

Led by Professor Hilary Critchley, researchers found that when taken as a pill, dexamethasone can reduce blood flow by 20 per cent when women are on their period.

The researchers analysed data of 107 women between the ages of 21 and 54 years old.

All participants had previously experienced severe menstrual pain.

What is menorrhagia?

Menorrhagia is an excessive loss of blood during menstruation.

And it can interfere with a woman's physical, emotional, social and material quality of life.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical director of, has emphasised that menorrhagia will not kill you.

She said: "Heavy menstrual bleeding can make you feel unwell, but it is not going to kill you.

"The average woman loses about 30-40ml (6-8 teaspoons) of blood during a period, and ‘menorrhagia’ – the medical term for significantly heavy periods – means losing more than 80m, or 16 teaspoons.

"Since the average adults has about 4.7 to 5.5 litres of blood, and you need to lose about 20% of your blood (about a litre) to go into shock, you can see why this is not an issue.

"However, if you’re losing more iron during your periods than you take in from your diet over several months, heavy periods can lead to iron deficiency anaemia.

"This can make you look pale and feel tired and breathless.

"In severe cases it can lead to swollen ankles, dizziness and fainting."

Writing in EBioMedicine, the researchers explained that women were given a 0.9mg of the drug twice daily for five days.

The reduction in menstrual blood volume was 19 per cent.

Prof Critchley said: "Menstruation and heavy menstrual bleeding are still taboo topics and the debilitating impact of the latter is under-reported by patients.

"Our findings open the way for further study of dexamethasone as a possible safe and effective therapy."

The experts also said that the drug could be licensed to women with heavy menstrual bleeding seeking to control symptoms while trying to get pregnant.

Dexamethasone was used to treat former President Donald Trump when he was in hospital with the virus.

Experts say that if the cheap drug had been available at the start of the pandemic, up to 5,000 Brit lives would have been saved.

It was found that it cut the risk of death by 35 per cent for patients on ventilators, and for those on oxygen support, it reduced mortality by 20 per cent.

Dexamethasone is now a standard treatment for Brits who are admitted to hospital with Covid and need ventilation.

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