Tranexamic Acid for Fibroids

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Tranexamic Acid for Fibroids

Heavy menstrual bleeding from fibroids is often accompanied by heavy cramping, both of which leave those inflicted, fatigued, and sometimes unable to work and fully participate in their lives.

In the earlier stages of fibroids, some physicians will try to control the common symptoms of heavy bleeding with oral contraceptives or GnRH agonists and will treat pain and discomfort with anti-inflammatory drugs. However, if this isn’t working, another option your doctor may try is the use of tranexamic acid.

For several decades the medical field has relied on tranexamic acid to help blood clot in order to reduce blood loss during surgery, or as a result of trauma, childbirth, and more. Belonging to a category of drugs called antifibrinolytics, tranexamic acid works by preventing the breakdown of a protein called fibrin, which is the main protein in a blood clot.

The history of using tranexamic acid in the treatment of heavy bleeding caused by menstruation, trauma, and childbirth, is a rather interesting one. It all started in Japan in the 1950s, at a time when postpartum hemorrhage was a leading cause of maternal death.

Utako and Shosuke Okamoto, a Japanese husband, and wife, both biochemists in Tokyo, had been working diligently to identify a drug that could reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhaging and save more women. The couple knew that there was an enzyme in the blood that breaks down blood clots, and sought to discover a medicine that would inhibit this action. What they discovered was the bleeding reduction effect of tranexamic acid.

In 1962, Utako and Shosuke Okamoto, published their findings in The Keio Journal of Medicine. Though at first, practitioners were slow to start using tranexamic acid, eventually it caught on as a useful treatment to control bleeding during routine procedures such as tooth extractions.

Following a few years of further research regarding the effectiveness of tranexamic acid, the medical field finally began to utilize this form of treatment. As a result, tranexamic acid is now used to treat bleeding-related issues in everything from that of trauma patients, pregnant women, hemophiliacs, and women experiencing too much blood loss during menstruation due to fibroid-related heavy bleeding, as well as other uterine conditions.

Though tranexamic acid is effective in controlling blood loss during surgery or as a result of trauma, the only FDA-approved usage of tranexamic acid is for heavy menstrual bleeding ( caused by fibroids or other conditions) and hemophiliacs.

Tranexamic acid comes in a tablet form and is usually taken with or without food three times a day for up to 5 days during monthly menstruation, starting on the first day of a period. These tablets need to be taken at around the same time every day of a menstrual period.

Though it is effective at reducing menstrual bleeding, tranexamic acid isn’t without its problems.

For starters, it’s expensive.

Sold under the brand name Lysteda, tranexamic acid can cost around $170 for 30 tablets of 650 mg. Not only is it a little pricey, but it can also have the following side effects:

abdominal or stomach pain, discomfort, or tenderness
fever or chills
difficulty with moving
headache, severe and throbbing
joint or back pain
muscle aching or cramping
muscle pains or stiffness
stuffy or runny nose

Tranexamic acid also has many drug interactions that are not safe, and it can not be taken with any of the following medications:

birth control pills, patches, injections, rings or other devices that contain both estrogen and a progestin
certain medicines used to help your blood clot
tretinoin (taken by mouth)

The Bottom Line:

Tranexamic acid is a nonhormonal option that reduces menstrual blood loss in patients with heavy menstrual bleeding due to uterine fibroids. Though it is more expensive than oral contraceptives, anti-inflammatory drugs, and hormone therapies- it is an option when those treatments are not recommended or desired. That being said, tranexamic acid may reduce fibroid-related heavy bleeding, however, it does not affect or address the underlying cause- The fibroids themselves.

In order to truly eliminate fibroid symptoms, fibroids need to be treated directly. In our next article, we will begin to look at surgeries and non-invasive procedures that can shrink and/or eliminate uterine fibroids.

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