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Thousands more women with heavy periods to be offered test

16 March 2018 08:58

One in 20 women aged 30-49 see a GP due to heavy menstrual bleeding.

One in 20 women aged 30-49 see a GP due to heavy menstrual bleeding.

Women who have heavy periods should be offered a hysteroscopy to find out the cause, according to health officials.

This could mean up to 10,000 more women in England taking the test, which examines the inside of the womb, each year.

First-line test for women

Around one in 20 women aged 30-49 see a GP due to heavy menstrual bleeding.

The issue can seriously affect quality of life, both physically and emotionally.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends hysteroscopy as a first-line test for women with heavy menstrual bleeding, instead of pelvic ultrasound, because it is gives a more accurate diagnosis as to what's causing it.

Hysteroscopy is the process whereby a narrow telescope with a light and camera at the end is passed through the vagina to examine the inside of the womb.

Director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, Prof Mark Baker, said: "This change should help ensure women with underlying endometrial diseases or conditions are more effectively diagnosed and can therefore receive better treatment.

"Not only this, but the cost of additional hysteroscopy will be offset by savings from fewer ultrasound investigations and fewer appointments following the diagnostic test."

Painless as possible

The guidance says that painkillers should be provided and miniature hysteroscopes should be used to ensure the procedure is as painless as possible.

However, for many women at low risk of underlying gynaecological problems, a hormonal contraceptive from their GP could also be a good first step, NICE said.

Around 5,000 women currently have a hysteroscopy in England each year.

Jonathan Lord, consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and NICE committee member, said women should be offered a range of options.

"There is also a shift in emphasis from doing simple but ineffective tests in many, to more focused but accurate tests where these are needed."

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