Uterine bleeding: how understanding endometrial physiology underpins menstrual health

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2022 May;18(5):290-308. doi: 10.1038/s41574-021-00629-4. Epub 2022 Feb 8.


Menstruation is a physiological process that is typically uncomplicated. However, up to one third of women globally will be affected by abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) at some point in their reproductive years. Menstruation (that is, endometrial shedding) is a fine balance between proliferation, decidualization, inflammation, hypoxia, apoptosis, haemostasis, vasoconstriction and, finally, repair and regeneration. An imbalance in any one of these processes can lead to the abnormal endometrial phenotype of AUB. Poor menstrual health has a negative impact on a person's physical, mental, social, emotional and financial well-being. On a global scale, iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia are closely linked with AUB, and are often under-reported and under-recognized. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics have produced standardized terminology and a classification system for the causes of AUB. This standardization will facilitate future research endeavours, diagnosis and clinical management. In a field where no new medications have been developed for over 20 years, emerging technologies are paving the way for a deeper understanding of the biology of the endometrium in health and disease, as well as opening up novel diagnostic and management avenues.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Endometrium / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstruation*
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterine Diseases*
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / etiology