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Keywords:

  • Epidemiology;
  • heavy menstrual bleeding;
  • menopause;
  • menorrhagia

Please cite this paper as: Shapley M, Blagojevic M, Jordan K, Croft P. The spontaneous resolution of heavy menstrual bleeding in the perimenopausal years. BJOG 2012;119:545–553.

Objective  To obtain estimates of the rate of spontaneous resolution of heavy menstrual bleeding and to explore any association with specific menstrual symptoms.

Design  Two-year prospective cohort study.

Setting  Seven general practices, with 67 100 registered patients.

Population  All women aged 40–54 years on the practices age–sex registers.

Methods  Baseline postal questionnaire, with follow-up questionnaires sent to naturally menstruating respondents at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months.

Main outcome measures  Rate of spontaneous resolution of heavy menstrual bleeding in naturally menstruating women.

Results  A total of 7121 baseline questionnaires were sent out, with an initial response rate of 63%. We recruited 2051 naturally menstruating women for the prospective cohort study. The spontaneous rate of resolution of heavy menstrual bleeding varied from 8.1% (95% CI 5.3–12%) in women aged 45–49 years, who had resolution without recurrence for 24 months, to 35% (95% CI 30–41%) in women aged 50–54 years, who had resolution without recurrence for 6 months. Rates were lower in those who reported interference with life from heavy menstrual bleeding. There was a strong association between the spontaneous resolution of heavy menstrual bleeding and skipped periods in women aged over 45 years. The association with ‘cycle too variable to say’ was significant, but weaker.

Conclusion  There is a high prevalence, incidence and significant spontaneous rate of resolution of heavy menstrual bleeding in naturally menstruating women during the perimenopausal years. The rates have potential use for individual women, clinical decisions, devising and implementing interventions and planning the care of populations.