Endometrial haemostasis and menstruation
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- Davies, J. & Kadir, R.A. Rev Endocr Metab Disord (2012) 13: 289. doi:10.1007/s11154-012-9226-4
Under normal physiological circumstances menstruation is a highly regulated, complex process that is under strict hormonal control. During normal menstruation, progesterone withdrawal initiates menstruation. The cessation of menstrual bleeding is achieved by endometrial haemostasis via platelet aggregation, fibrin deposition and thrombus formation. Local endocrine, immunological and haemostatic factors interact at a molecular level to control endometrial haemostasis. Tissue factor and thrombin play a key role locally in the cessation of menstrual bleeding through instigation of the coagulation factors. On the other hand, fibrinolysis prevents clot organisation within the uterine cavity while plasminogen activator inhibitors (PAI) and thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitors control plasminogen activators and plasmin activity. Abnormalities of uterine bleeding can result from imbalance of the haemostatic factors. The most common abnormality of uterine bleeding is heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB). Modern research has shown that an undiagnosed bleeding disorder, in particular von Willebrand disease (VWD) and platelet function disorders, can be an underlying cause of HMB. This has led to a change in the approach to the management of HMB. While full haemostatic assessment is not required for all women presenting with HMB, menstrual score and bleeding score can help to discriminate women who are more likely to have a bleeding disorder and benefit from laboratory haemostatic evaluation. Haemostatic agents (tranexamic acid and DDAVP) enhance systemic and endometrial haemostasis and are effective in reducing menstrual blood loss in women with or without bleeding disorders. Further research is required to enhance our understanding of the complex interactions of haemostatic factors in general, and specifically within the endometrium. This will lead to the development of more targeted interventions for the management of abnormal uterine bleeding in the future.