Abnormal uterine bleeding: managing endometrial dysfunction and leiomyomas

Annabelle Brennan and Martha Hickey
Med J Aust 2018; 208 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/mja17.00726
Published online: 5 February 2018



  • Abnormal uterine bleeding refers to any change in the regularity, frequency, heaviness or length of menstruation. There are several potential causes for bleeding disturbance, the two most common being primary endometrial dysfunction and fibroids. Management of abnormal uterine bleeding involves both medical and surgical options and will largely depend on a patient’s fertility plans.
  • The use of levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine devices for heavy menstrual bleeding is increasing in Australia, and they are considered first-line medical management for women accepting of hormonal therapies. Tranexamic acid, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the combined oral contraceptive pill and oral progestins offer alternatives.
  • Hysterectomy offers a definitive surgical approach to abnormal uterine bleeding and is associated with high levels of patient satisfaction.
  • Women wishing to preserve their fertility, or avoid hysterectomy, may be offered myomectomy. Submucosal fibroids should be removed via hysteroscopy in symptomatic or infertile patients. Intramural and subserosal fibroids may be removed via an open or laparoscopic approach.
  • There are several minimally invasive options, including uterine artery embolisation, magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound and endometrial ablation, but patients should be aware that there is insufficient evidence to ensure fertility preservation with these procedures and further research is needed.
  • Areas for additional research include cost-effectiveness of treatments and quality of life comparisons between management options using patient reported outcome measures to evaluate patient satisfaction.


  • 1 Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2 Gynaecology Research Centre, Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne, VIC

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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