Thousands of women with fibroids in England and Wales are to be offered a new tablet to relieve their symptoms as an alternative to injections or surgery.
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the uterus. About one in three women develop it at some point in their life. They most often occur in people between the ages of 30 and 50.
Symptoms can include prolonged and heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure, and fertility issues. There are currently limited long-term treatment options.
The National Institute for Health and Healthcare Excellence (Nice) has recommended that a new treatment – relugolix with estradiol and norethisterone acetate, also called Ryeqo – be offered on the NHS, in the final draft guidance. About 4,500 women will be eligible.
Taken once daily as a single tablet, comprising 40mg relugolix, 1mg estradiol and 0.5mg norethisterone acetate, treatment is another option for women with moderate to severe symptoms , Nice said. It works by reducing the release of hormones that control the production of estrogen and progesterone by the ovaries.
Relugolix with estradiol and norethisterone acetate offers an effective alternative to surgery and injectable gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, which also work to reduce the production of estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries.
BBC Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo has previously spoken about her experience living with fibroids. She told Life Hacks on Radio 1: “A lot of people don’t know what they are. So these are essentially non-cancerous growths that can appear on the uterus.
“The blessing is that they’re not cancerous, which is a plus, but they still cause a lot of problems with fertility, fun, sexy time, with your digestive system, with your urinary system, heavy periods. I I developed anemia because my periods were very heavy. I was losing a lot of blood because of them.
Amfo recently underwent surgery to remove six large fibroids. “The recovery has been so difficult,” she said. “It was keyhole surgery, but it was still invasive.”
Helen Knight, acting director of drug evaluation at the Nice Center for Health Technology Assessment, said fibroids could have a “profound effect” on women because of their ability to cause “many debilitating symptoms”.
“This treatment has the potential to improve quality of life,” she said. “In addition to effectively reducing symptoms, it can be taken at home and is therefore more convenient than the injectable treatment, administered in a hospital setting.
“It can also be used long-term, which could mean improved and long-lasting symptom relief, it is well tolerated and will mean that thousands of women will be able to avoid invasive surgery, which always carries some risk.”
Maria Caulfield, Minister for Women’s Health, said: “Around one in three women may suffer from uterine fibroids at some point in their lives – the symptoms can have a profound impact on women’s health and lead to infertility. if they are not treated.
“So this is another revolutionary step forward not only to improve women’s quality of life and reduce symptoms, but also to give them a wider choice of available medications and less invasive alternative treatment options. “