Menstruation is a natural part of a woman's life that you are most likely familiar with. However, learning the signs that your menstrual cycle is not normal is essential. Menorrhagia is a condition that causes heavy bleeding during the menstrual cycle. Although common, most women do not fully understand this disorder. With this guide and your gynecologist's help, you will understand the signs and treatment options for menorrhagia.
Every woman is different, so your menstrual cycle will be different from another women's. However, blood flow that is heavy or lasts over 7 days is most likely due to menorrhagia. Unfortunately, most women do not document their menstrual cycles and blood flow, which can be difficult when determining if they are having an abnormal cycle.
Here are a few signs to help you determine if you are affected by menorrhagia:
- Blood soaks through sanitary pad or tampon every hour for several hours
- Using two pads or one pad and a tampon is necessary to soak up blood
- Needing to replace pads and tampons while sleeping at night
- Passing blood clots
- Inability to complete simple tasks due to heavy blood flow
- Fatigue and shortness of breath due to excess blood loss
If you are experiencing one or more of the above issues, consult your gynecologist. After a physical exam and a series of tests, your doctor can determine the cause of your heavy menstrual bleeding.
In some instances, the cause of menorrhagia is unknown, but most women suffering from heavy bleeding and a long menstrual period will have a hormonal imbalance that should be addressed.
During a healthy menstrual cycle, the estrogen and progesterone will regulate the buildup of the uterine lining. If these hormones are out of balance, the shedding of the uterine lining will become excessive, resulting in long and heavy blood flow.
Hormonal imbalances can be caused by a variety of factors including obesity, thyroid issues, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
The presence of fibroids and polyps in the uterus can also cause your periods to be long and heavy. Fibroids and polyps are non-cancerous tumors and growths that develop inside the uterus, preventing a normal shedding of the uterine lining.
The type of birth control you are using may also cause you to have heavy bleedings. IDU, or intrauterine devices, prevent pregnancy by releasing copper or hormones into the uterus to prevent fertilization. While hormonal IUDs are actually known to reduce bleeding during menstruation, copper IUDs are known to increase bleeding within the first 6 months of usage.
If blood flow has increased after the application of an IUD, ask your doctor about alternative birth control methods.
Treating menorrhagia will depend on its specific cause. Non-steroidal medications to reduce inflammation may be prescribed. These medications will ease any discomfort you may be feeling from heavy bleeding and cramps while also reducing blood loss.
Oral contraceptives, which provide birth control, may also be prescribed. These contraceptives will regulate your menstrual cycle to ensure your blood flow is not too long or too heavy.
A dilation and curettage, or D&C, can be used to remove tissue from the lining of the uterus. This will reduce heavy menstrual bleeding, but ongoing treatments may be necessary.
If the heavy bleeding is caused by fibroids or polyps, a more involved treatment may be necessary. A myomectomy is used to remove fibroids or polyps from the uterus. Your gynecologist may be able to remove smaller tumors or growth through the vagina and cervix. An incision in the abdomen will be necessary to remove larger growths from the uterus.
Heavy bleeding can alter your physical and emotional state. If you are experiencing menorrhagia, contact a doctor at facilities like Lifecycles OB/GYN, PC.