Scientists discover a way to ease women’s period pain

In a breakthrough study, scientists have discovered the reason some women have heavier period than others.

Researchers at Edinburgh University have identified a key protein called HIF-1 that helps repair the womb lining during menstruation, limiting blood loss. They found that some women have lower levels of oxygen in their blood which means the protein is slower to produce, therefore causing more intense blood flow and painful periods.

Study leader Dr Jackier Maybin, of the University of Edinburgh’s Medical Research Council Centre for Reproductive Health, said: “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.”

Scientists tested a drug used to boost levels of HIF-1 on mice and found it improved tissue repair and reduced blood loss. This gives hope for drugs and treatment that can ease pain without impacting a woman’s hormones or reproductive system.

Currently, heavy bleeding affects one in three women and is normally treated through hormone based therapies. These therapies, however, can result in side effects and, in many cases, the woman may have to undergo a hysterectomy.

“Heavy bleeding is a debilitating and common condition that affects thousands of women and girls but too often gets dismissed,” says a spokesperson for the charity Wellbeing of Women, who helped to fund the research.

“These findings give hope to women who have suffered in silence with the condition for too long.”