Intended for healthcare professionals


Is norethisterone a lifestyle drug?

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 10 June 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1605

Health is not merely the absence of disease

  1. Gerry Bryant, specialist registrar in public health medicine (,
  2. Ian Scott, consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology,
  3. Anne Worrall, specialist registrar in public health medicine
  1. Leicestershire Health Authority, Leicester LE5 4QF
  2. Derby City General Hospital, Derby DE22 2NE
  3. Nottingham Health Authority, Nottingham NG1 6GN
  4. Barnfield Hill Surgery, Exeter EX1 1SR
  5. Ridgeway Surgery, North Harrow HA2 7DU

    EDITOR—The summer peak in norethisterone prescribing shown so graphically by Shakespeare et al will not surprise most general practitioners.1 Although there is evidence that norethisterone is ineffective in reducing menstrual loss in menorrhagia,2 the drug is licensed and is effective at delaying the onset of menstruation and regulating chaotic or short menstrual cycles.3

    It is, in our opinion, insulting to women to imply that the use of norethisterone to postpone menstruation—which may account for a substantial proportion of current prescriptions of the drug—is inappropriate for the NHS.

    Menstrual bleeding disorders are common and are often not associated with any recognised organic disease process: dysfunctional uterine bleeding is an acceptable diagnosis. Problem …

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