Heavy menstrual periods are also known as a medical condition called menorrhagia. In addition to causing you to go through a lot more feminine hygiene products, heavy periods can often indicate something more serious.
Having heavy periods is more than just an inconvenience. It can alter how you live your life and even make you dread getting that monthly visitor altogether. Along with heavy bleeding, you may also have severe cramping. It can even be bad enough that you miss work.
The team at the Center for Women’s Health in Sugar Land and Richmond, Texas, explains more about the causes of your heavy periods and what you can do about them.
Defining heavy bleeding
“Heavy bleeding” can be a subjective term. The strict definition of heavy menstrual bleeding includes the following:
- Bleeding for more than seven days
- Having to change your tampon or pad every hour
- Needing to double up on feminine hygiene products, such as using both a tampon and a pad at the same time
- Passing clots larger than a quarter
- Abdominal pain
In addition, you may also develop symptoms of anemia due to blood loss. Anemia causes symptoms such as difficulty breathing, weakness, pale skin, and extreme fatigue.
Causes of heavy bleeding
Maybe you saw women dealing with heavy periods while you were growing up and assumed it was normal and that nothing could help. Fortunately, there are things that can help. Here are three of the most common causes of heavy bleeding:
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths on the lining of your uterus. They are not known to have any correlation with the later development of cancer. However, they can be very troublesome now.
Fibroids are common among women during childbearing years. They range in size from very small to so large that they expand the size of your uterus.
Uterine polyps have symptoms very similar to fibroids but differ in the type of tissue where they form. Like fibroids, polyps aren’t cancerous.
Your hormones have to be in a very delicate balance to have a normal menstrual cycle. Imbalanced hormones can cause irregularities in your cycles, including heavy bleeding.
A variety of factors can cause hormone imbalances. These include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disorders, and endometriosis. Figuring out the root cause of your hormonal imbalance usually requires blood tests and other possible tests, including ultrasound and an endometrial biopsy.
If you don’t regularly ovulate (referred to as anovulation), your uterine lining continues growing until it’s shed, and you are likely to have heavier periods as a result. This may often be the case if you have PCOS but it can also occur for other reasons.
Other factors and what we can do
Other factors can also contribute to heavy menstrual bleeding, including certain types of IUDs used for birth control, some female cancers, pelvic inflammatory disease, and bleeding disorders, often familial in origin.
The only way to diagnose what is causing your heavy bleeding is to examine you. Fortunately, we can treat your heavy bleeding, once we find out the cause. We may do an endometrial ablation or even a hysterectomy, especially if you’re done building your family.
You deserve your quality of life again, without cramps and heavy bleeding. Contact the team at the Center for Women’s Health or request an appointment online.