Which medications in the drug class Progestins are used in the treatment of Abnormal (Dysfunctional) Uterine Bleeding?

Updated: Dec 07, 2018
  • Author: Millie A Behera, MD; Chief Editor: Richard Scott Lucidi, MD, FACOG  more...
  • Print


Occasional anovulatory bleeding that is not profuse or prolonged can be treated with progestins. Progestins inhibit estrogen receptor replenishment and activate 17-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in endometrial cells, converting estradiol to the less active estrone. Medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera) is the most commonly used progestin in this country, but other types, including norethindrone acetate (Aygestin) and norethindrone (Micronor), are equally efficacious. In some patients in which systemic progestins are intolerable due to side effects, a progestin secreting IUD (Mirena) may be considered.

Synthetic progestins have an antimitotic effect, allowing the endometrium to become atrophic if administered continuously. These drugs are very effective in cases of endometrial hyperplasia. In patients with chronic eugonadal anovulation who do not desire pregnancy, treatment with a progestin for 10-12 d/mo will allow for controlled, predictable menses and will protect the patient against the development of endometrial hyperplasia.

Some perimenopausal patients will not respond well to progestin therapy because of an inherent estrogen deficiency. Also, patients with thin, denuded endometrium occurring after several days of chronic bleeding might require induction of new endometrial proliferation by estrogen therapy first.

Avoid synthetic progestins in early pregnancy. They induce an endometrial response that is different from normal preimplantation secretory endometrium. Also, several reports suggest an association between intrauterine exposure to synthetic progestins in the first trimester of pregnancy and genital abnormalities in male and female fetuses. The risk of hypospadias, 5-8 per 1000 male births, might be doubled with early in-utero exposure to these drugs. Some synthetic progestins might cause virilization of female external genitalia in utero.

Patients at risk for conception can be treated safely with natural progesterone preparations. These preparations induce a normal secretory endometrium appropriate for implantation and subsequent growth of a developing conceptus.

Medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera)

Short-acting synthetic progestin. Drug of choice for patients with anovulatory AUB. After acute bleeding episode is controlled, can be used alone in patients with adequate amounts of endogenous estrogen to cause endometrial growth. Progestin therapy in adolescents produces regular cyclic withdrawal bleeding until positive feedback system matures.

Stops endometrial cell proliferation, allowing organized sloughing of cells after withdrawal. Typically does not stop acute bleeding episode but produces a normal bleeding episode following withdrawal.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!