Understanding the Causes and Treatments for Heavy Periods

Understanding the Causes and Treatments for Heavy Periods

If you’re one of the millions of women who suffer from heavy periods, you know the frustrations of intense pain, worry and isolation during that time of the month. You long for a solution to the bleeding and cramps, but aren’t sure exactly what to do about it. Doctors define heavy periods, also known as menorrhagia, as abnormally heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Understand the causes and treatments for abnormal or heavy periods as you find the relief you need and deserve.   

Symptoms of Heavy Periods   

Every woman experiences menorrhagia in different ways. However, the common signs and symptoms could include:

  • Bleeding that lasts longer than seven days
  • Soaking through a tampon/pad several hours in a row
  • Needing to use double your normal sanitary protection
  • Waking up overnight to change your tampon/pad
  • Passing blood clots larger than a quarter
  • Restricting daily activities due to heavy menstrual flow
  • Experiencing anemia symptoms of low energy, tiredness or shortness of breath

Causes of Heavy Periods

Numerous conditions can contribute to menorrhagia, but the causes are sometimes unknown. Consider if any of the following conditions could cause your heavy periods.  

1. Uterine-related conditions

  • IUD birth control
  • Miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy
  • Benign tumors called fibroids or polyps 
  • Uterine or cervical cancer

2. Hormone-related conditions

  • Endometrium buildup caused by estrogen and progesterone imbalance
  • Ovulatory dysfunction 
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Insulin resistance 
  • Thyroid problems
  • Obesity

3. Illnesses or disorders

  • Bleeding disorders, including von Willebrand disease (VWD) or platelet function disorder
  • Thyroid, kidney or liver disease
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

4. Certain medications

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Hormonal medications 
  • Anticoagulants 

Treatment of Heavy Periods

The symptoms, causes and seriousness of your heavy periods factor into the treatment you could receive. Before your appointment, consider if you want to reduce the bleeding and/or pain or stop having your period altogether, think about your fertility, and decide if you want a once-and-done solution or ongoing treatment. 

Your doctor will discuss the details of your symptoms and review your medical history, age, general health, wants, and needs before recommending a treatment option. Your treatment could include: 

  • Pain reliever
  • Iron supplements
  • Hormone therapy
  • Birth control
  • Desmopressin nasal spray 
  • Antifibrinolytic medicines 
  • Endometrial ablation or resection
  • Dilation and Curettage (D&C) 
  • Hysterectomy

When to Visit Your Doctor Because of Heavy Periods

While heavy periods can be embarrassing, discuss your heavy periods with your gynecologist at your next exam. Or schedule a visit today if you experience an irregularity, such as: 

  • Bleeding that soaks through one or more tampons/pads hourly for two or more hours
  • Bleeding between periods 
  • Bleeding after menopause

You want and deserve to participate fully in your life, and heavy periods can be a painful and dangerous interruption. Talk openly with your doctor about your symptoms. We’re here to diagnose the causes of your heavy or abnormal periods and find a treatment that’s right for you.

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