Many women across the globe suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding and associated pain. There is a way to ease the period problems without hormonal treatments or hysterectomies and scientists have discovered it.
A group of researchers from the University of Edinburgh have identified a key protein that could help in limiting blood loss and complications during menstruation. The researchers have said that their findings could pave the way to develop a new treatment for heavy periods.
The study shows that one in every three women suffers from heavy bleeding during menstruation and it can eventually lead to severe anaemia. These women might have lowered red blood cells to carry oxygen around their body, according to the researchers.
In order to identify the cause of heavy bleeding, the researchers have studied the endometrium, a womb lining that is shed during menstruation, leaving a wound-like surface that must be healed to control blood loss.
The researchers have discovered that lowered level of oxygen, which is known as hypoxia, stimulates the production of a protein called HIF-1 and it drives the repair of the womb lining.
However, many women suffering from heavy bleeding during menstruation have low levels of HIF-1 compared to those women, who have normal periods.
"Our findings reveal for the first time that HIF-1 and reduced levels of oxygen in the womb are required during a period to optimise repair of the womb lining," Dr Jackie Maybin, lead researcher of the Medical Research Council Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, said.
"Excitingly, increasing levels of the HIF-1 protein in mice shows real promise as a novel, non-hormonal medical treatment," he added.
The research was done with the help of funding from a charitable organisation called Wellbeing of Women, which is dedicated to improving the health of women and children.
"Heavy bleeding is a debilitating and common condition that affects thousands of women and girls but too often gets dismissed. Wellbeing of Women is delighted to have supported this work, which has led to the breakthrough discovery of causes of the condition so treatments might now be developed. These findings give hope to women who have suffered in silence with the condition for too long," a spokesperson from the charitable organisation said.