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Morning after pill treats fibroids

Women suffering from the pain of fibroids could be helped by an experimental morning after pill, research has found.

The womb condition, which can cause heavy periods, pain and infertility, could be relieved by the drug ulipristal acetate (UPA), scientists suggest.

The drug would provide an effective non-surgical solution to treat the common condition.

Research showed that women taking the pill saw their symptoms reduce and their fibroids shrink in volume.

Psychological tests showed that their energy levels, mood and general quality of life all improved. Other evidence confirmed that after stopping the treatment, fertility returned to normal.

Study leader Alicia Armstrong, from the US National Institutes of Health, said: "The results ... are convincing and lead us to conclude that UPA is an effective non-invasive treatment for fibroids that can help maintain fertility in women whose only option up to now was to have surgery."

UPA is currently being developed as a novel form of emergency contraception.

Researchers thought it might also work as a fibroid treatment because of its effect on the fertility hormone progesterone.

Progesterone helps to trigger ovulation, but recent research has shown it also plays a role in the development of uterine fibroids.

The condition is believed to affect 24 million women in Europe, and as many as one in four British women will suffer from the non-cancerous growths in their lifetime.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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