When a woman’s period moves from being light or normal to heavy flow, this becomes an issue of concern for her. Heavy period, also called menorrhagia, occurs when a woman loses an excessive quantity of blood in consecutive periods.
Some women will only experience the heavy periods while others have associated menstrual pain. Menorrhagia doesn’t always point to an underlying medical condition, but it can still affect a woman socially and emotionally. Consult your doctor if it becomes an issue of concern.
Causes of heavy periods
- Hormonal Imbalance
This is probably the most common reason for heavy periods, especially during adolescence or menopause. There is always fluctuations of hormone levels during adolescence right when you get your first periods and a few years before menopause. These fluctuations can lead to excessive bleeding that can frequently be treated with hormonal treatments.
READ ALSO: Painful Menstruation: Causes And Treatment
- Cervical Cancer
A woman’s period can be heavy if she has cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is deadly. It occurs if cells within the cervix are abnormal, multiply excessively, and then damage healthy areas of your body. HPV (human papillomavirus) causes more than 90 percent of cervical cancers. Treatment may involve radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection that can affect the uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes. It is transmitted during sexual activities, but may occur after childbirth, abortion, or a gynecological procedure. It can be treated with antibiotics.
- Uterine Fibroid Tumors
Most uterine fibroid tumor are benign and they are common in women during their 30s and 40s. Most uterine fibroid tumors shrink and disappear during menopause without any treatment. Scientists are uncertain as to what causes uterine fibroid, but they discovered they depend on estrogen. There are various surgical and non-surgical treatments available.
READ ALSO: How to Hasten or Halt Your Period
- Endometrial Cancer
Endometrial cancer develops when abnormal cells within the endometrium or uterus multiple disproportionately and then cause damage to your uterus or other organs. Most women with this cancer are over 50 and frequently undergo hormone replacement therapy or have endometrial hyperplasia. Treatment normally starts with a hysterectomy and then radiation and/or chemotherapy.
- Endometrial Polyps
These are benign growths and they are found in the uterine lining. They are also connected to excessive estrogen levels after hormone treatment and sometimes with ovarian tumors. Treatments may include a hysterectomy.
- Cervical Polyps
Cervical polyps are small, fragile growths that begins in the end cervical canal or the mucosal surface of your cervix. They are often due to infection and connected to abnormal responses to increased levels of estrogen or blood vessel congestion in the area. Cervical polyps can be removed as an outpatient treatment followed by antibiotics.
Using an intrauterine device (IUD), for contraception can lead to heavy periods. You will need to consult your doctor. They will likely recommend removing the device and switching to another birth control method.
How to know when my period is heavy
Heavy bleeding is normally classified as more than 80 milliliters of blood each cycle. Measuring that amount may be impossible. However, you can note how frequently you change your tampon or sanitary pad. Changing every few hours may indicate a heavy flow. Also, you can detect a heavy flow based on the number of blood clots. There may be an underlying issue if you have clots larger than an inch of diameter or a large number of clots. You should watch out for the following signs:
- You have to use multiple pads to control the flow
- Your flow soaks through at least one tampon or pad each hour for several consecutive hours.
- You lack energy and shortness of breath.
- Your menstrual periods last over 7 days.
- You must change tampons or pads in the middle of the night.
- Blood clots in your flow are the same size as a quarter or bigger.
- Your flow is heavy enough to prevent you from participating in normal activities.
- There is constant lower stomach pain during your periods.
How to Treat Heavy Periods
Your doctor may suggest Ibuprofen, naproxen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help treat heavy periods. Hormone treatments can steady your uterine lining, correct hormonal imbalances, or control your cycle. Your doctor may also suggest a hormone secreting IUD or tranexamic acid (Lysteda), which is a non-hormonal medication promoting blood clotting.
Your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure to treat your heavy period. These may include:
- Dilation and curettage or D&C which involves dilating your cervix and then scraping your uterine lining.
- A hysteroscopy: This involves inserting a long and thin scope into the uterus via your vagina and cervix to enable your doctor see and remove any uterine masses in your uterine lining that may cause bleeding.
- Endometrial ablation: This involves destroying or removing the lining of your uterus.
- A hysterectomy: This procedure involves removing your cervix and uterus surgically.
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