Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have identified the possible cause of excessive menstrual bleeding; a condition that is estimated to affect one in three of us.
During a period, the endometrium (aka womb lining) sheds, leaving behind a wound-like surface that has to heal in order to limit blood loss. Lowered oxygen levels – known as hypoxia – stimulates the production of a protein called HIF-1, which is what drives the repair process.
In their research, the scientists found that women who suffered from heavy flows had reduced levels of HIF-1 in comparison to those who didn’t.
Tests were then conducted on mice using a drug designed to boost levels of HIF-1. This resulted in improved tissue repair and, in turn, reduced blood loss.
“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,” explained the study’s lead author, Dr. Jackie Maybin.
“Excitingly, increasing levels of the HIF-1 protein in mice shows real promise as a novel, non-hormonal medical treatment.”
And considering heavy periods not only cause pain and discomfort but can also lead to other health issues such as severe anaemia, these findings are a win all round for women hoping for a cure.