How we treat heavy menstrual bleeding associated with anticoagulants

Kochawan Boonyawat, Sarah H. O'Brien and Shannon M. Bates


Anticoagulant-associated heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) is an underrecognized but not uncommon problem in clinical practice. Premenopausal women should be advised of the potential effect of anticoagulant therapy on menstrual bleeding at the time of treatment initiation. Consequences of HMB should be assessed and treated on an ongoing basis. In the acute setting, the decision to withhold anticoagulants is based on an individual patient's risk of thrombosis and the severity of the bleeding. For women who require long-term anticoagulation, the use of levonorgestrel intrauterine system, tranexamic acid (during menstrual flow), high dose progestin-only therapy, and combined hormonal contraceptives are effective for controlling HMB; the risk of thrombosis during anticoagulant therapy with these treatments is not well studied, but is likely to be low. Selection of type of hormonal therapy is based on patient preference, other indications for and contraindications to therapy, as well as side effect profile and ongoing thrombotic risk factors. Women who do not respond to medical treatment or who do not wish to retain their fertility should be considered for surgical management.

  • Submitted July 25, 2017.
  • Accepted October 24, 2017.