Menorrhagia, also known as heavy menstrual bleeding, is a common condition in which a woman loses a lot of blood during her period.
Heavy menstrual bleeding is among the major concerns about menstruation. It is a frustrating and disruptive condition, and it can sometimes be a sign of unknown medical conditions hence why you do not have to take heavy periods for granted.
This post will take you through menorrhagia( heavy menstrual bleeding), its causes, diagnosis, and treatment.
Risk factors for heavy Menstrual Bleeding
There are several risk factors for heavy periods, including:
- Age: Heavy periods are more common in women who are in their reproductive years, typically between the ages of 20 and 40.
- Family history: If a close family member, such as a mother or sister, has had heavy periods, you may be more likely to experience them as well.
- Illnesses such as uterine fibroids, cysts or endometriosis.
- Your lifestyle could also trigger heavy menstrual bleeding. Such tendencies include smoking.
Symptoms of a heavy menstrual bleeding
There is no specific definition of what constitutes a “heavy” menstrual bleeding, as the amount of blood loss can vary greatly from person to person.
Heavy menstrual bleeding is different for each woman because one woman’s heavy bleeding could be another woman’s normal bleeding.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding that soaks through your feminine hygiene product(sanitary pad, tampon).
- Having to use two or more sanitary pads at a go to avoid staining.
- Having to wake up two or more times during the night to change a pad or tampon.
- You experience large clots of blood than normal.
- Anemia, or a low red blood cell count, due to blood loss
- Fatigue or dizziness
- Pain in the lower abdomen or back.
Possible causes of heavy menstruation bleeding
There are several possible causes of heavy menstrual periods, including hormonal imbalances, uterine fibroids, polyps, or other conditions of the uterus.
1. Hormonal imbalances.
Hormones play a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle. An imbalance of hormones(estrogen, progesterone) can cause a heavy flow.
Uterine fibroids can also lead to heavy periods if not diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Polyps could also be a reason why you have heavy periods. You wouldn’t know about it unless you get checked by a doctor.
4. Other conditions of the uterus
There are several other conditions that can affect the uterus and cause heavy menstrual bleeding, including endometriosis, adenomyosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Adenomyosis is a condition in which the lining of the uterus merges with its muscular wall (the myometrium). This can cause the uterus to enlarge and can lead to heavy periods, as well as painful periods and painful sex.
The exact cause of adenomyosis is not known, but it is thought to be related to hormonal changes and previous uterine surgeries. It is more common in older women of around 40 and 50 years and those who have had children.
Symptoms of adenomyosis can include heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and discomfort, and painful sex. The condition can also cause bloating, fatigue, and bowel movement problems.
Diagnosis of adenomyosis is typically done through a pelvic examination or ultrasound. In fatal cases, an MRI may be done.
Hormonal birth control, such as a pill or a hormonal IUD, can help regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce heavy bleeding. Non-hormonal medications, such as ibuprofen and tranexamic acid, can also be used to reduce menstrual bleeding.
In fatal cases, adenomyosis may require a hysterectomy (removing the uterus), or a myomectomy, (removing the growths within the uterus.
Diagnosis for heavy menstrual bleeding.
If you are experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding, seek medical help especially if you have never experienced it before.
The doctor will;
- Ask you some questions.
- Perform a physical examination to find out the exact cause of the heavy periods you are experiencing.
The doctor must ask you some questions. The reason your healthcare provider may ask you some questions is to better understand your symptoms and medical history.
The following are some of the questions a doctor may ask about heavy periods;
- How long have you been experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding?
- How often can you change your pad or tampon to avoid staining?
- Does your heavy period come with other difficulties such as abdominal pain or back pain(painful period)?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
- Are you on any medications or dietary supplements?
- Have you ever had any surgeries, such as a hysterectomy or a dilation and curettage (D&C)?
- Are you pregnant?
- Have you given birth recently?
- Have you ever had any abnormal cancer screening i.e Pap?
Answering these questions will help your doctor to come to an appropriate conclusion and advise or treat you accordingly.
After that, your healthcare provider may also recommend some tests to help diagnose the exact cause of your heavy periods, including:
- A pelvic exam: During a pelvic exam, your healthcare provider will examine your reproductive organs to look for any abnormalities or growths.
- A blood test: A blood test can help determine if you have anemia, which can be a sign of heavy menstrual bleeding.
- An ultrasound: An ultrasound can be used to determine if you have uterine fibroids or other conditions that may be causing your heavy periods.
- Other tests: Depending on your symptoms and medical history, your healthcare provider may recommend other tests, such as a biopsy or a hysteroscopy, to diagnose the cause of your heavy periods.
Strictly follow the doctor’s instructions and undergo any recommended tests to help diagnose the cause of your heavy periods. Once the cause is known, treatment will be easier.
Treatment option for heavy periods
1. Non-hormonal medications
Medications such as ibuprofen and tranexamic acid can help reduce menstrual bleeding by decreasing the amount of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) in the body. These medications can be taken before or during your period to help reduce heavy bleeding.
2. Hormonal birth control.
They include the pill or a hormonal IUD, which can help regulate your menstrual cycle and reduce heavy bleeding by preventing the ovaries from releasing eggs. This can help decrease the amount of prostaglandins in the body and help regulate your menstrual cycle.
3. Surgical procedures
In severe cases, a surgical procedure may be necessary to treat heavy periods. This could include a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure, which involves dilating the cervix and removing tissue from the uterus, or a hysterectomy, which involves removing the uterus.
Complications associated with heavy menstrual bleeding
Heavy periods, also known as menorrhagia, can cause several complications. These can include:
- Anemia: Heavy bleeding can cause(anemia) and a loss of red blood cells. Anemia can cause symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
- Disruption of daily activities: Heavy periods can make you uncomfortable to go by with your normal activities. Not forgetting social life and sexual activity.
- Fertility problems: Heavy periods can cause hormonal imbalances, which can affect fertility by scarring the uterus, which can make it hard for a fertilized egg to implant and grow.
- Psychological distress: Heavy periods can cause emotional distress, such as anxiety and depression.
Frequently Asked Questions
How heavy is too heavy for a period?
It is not possible to provide a specific weight threshold for what is considered a “heavy” period, as the amount of blood loss during menstruation can vary greatly from person to person.
Some women experience heavy bleeding while others have very light bleeding. The amount of bleeding is not necessarily an indication of overall health so seek medical health if you notice changes in your menstrual flow.
Why is my period so heavy and clotty?
A heavy and clotty period may indicate different medical conditions like uterine fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), adenomyosis, or endometriosis.
These conditions can interfere with the normal regulation of the menstrual cycle and lead to heavy bleeding and clotting during periods.
Is a heavy period healthy?
There is no specific weight threshold for what is considered a “heavy” period, as the amount of blood loss during menstruation can vary greatly from person to person.
In general, a heavy period is not necessarily an indication of overall health or menstrual regularity. However, excessive bleeding during periods can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as hormonal imbalances, uterine fibroids, or certain reproductive disorders.