Heavy bleeding during periods: Cause, symptoms and treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding

Chethana Prakasan
Everything you need to know about menorrhagia or heavy menstrual bleeding.

Your period or the menstrual cycle is a natural process that occurs once a month in all women. It is the process to prepare your body for a possible pregnancy. Every month, an egg is released from one of your ovaries and this is called ovulation. The lining of the uterus thickens to receive the egg and fertilization of the egg. If the egg is not fertilized, the uterus lining sheds and it is called as menstruation. The mucous tissue and the blood from the uterus lining are discharged through your vagina and this is your monthly period. The bleeding usually lasts five days but may vary from two to seven days. (ALSO READ Can you get periods twice a month?)

During these days, there are days when the flow is heavy and it is normal. However, some women suffer from a condition called menorrhagia, which means heavy period. Some women may start to have a heavy menstrual bleeding after years of normal bleeding. In menorrhagia, you need to change your tampon or sanitary pad every hour due to heavy bleeding or experience bleeding for more than seven days. To know whether you have menorrhagia, you need to monitor the number of tampons getting soaked and the number of time you had to change it.  It is important to consult your doctor if you have heavy bleeding as it can lead to anemia. In some cases, the bleeding is so heavy that the blood volume drops and the woman has to be hospitalized as she may experience heart palpitations, sever fatigue and shortness of breath. (ALSO READ How to get pregnant fast with irregular periods: Tips to improve the chances of getting pregnant with irregular menstrual cycle).

Symptoms of menorrhagia or heavy menstrual bleeding

Women with heavy menstrual flow may need to –

Change tampons or pads every hour throughout the day
Change pad or tampon in the middle of the night
Wear two pads at a time to control the flow or
May have periods longer than seven days
May bleed after menopause or between periods
May have big clots
May have painful cramps
May feel shortness of breath

Causes of menorrhagia or heavy menstrual bleeding

Hormonal imbalance: From the buildup of the uterus lining to release of egg, the hormones progesterone and estrogen regulate your menstrual cycle. In case there is a slight imbalance in these hormones, the lining of the uterus develops in excess, which can lead to heavy bleeding when it sheds. (ALSO READ Regulate your periods: 5 ways to regulate an irregular menstrual cycle)

Polyps: Polyps are the benign growth on the uterus lining and it may lead to prolonged or heavy bleeding during periods. Usually, polyps develop in women of reproductive age due to high levels of hormone.

Dysfunctional ovaries: Menorrhagia can happen if your ovaries are not functioning properly. If an egg is not released from the ovaries during a menstrual, it can result in hormonal imbalance as your body will not produce the hormone progesterone.

Intrauterine device (IUD): Using a nonhormonal intrauterine device as a birth control method can cause menorrhagia. It is a side effect of using an IUD and it needs to be removed if you experience heavy bleeding.

Uterine fibroids: Uterine fibroids are benign tumors of uterus and it causes prolonged or heavy menstrual bleeding. It usually appears during the childbearing years.

Cancer: Sometimes, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer can lead to heavier than usual bleeding.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): Usually, when a sexually transitmitted infection is left untreated, it causes PID. Sometimes, it is occurs after an abortion, childbirth or other gynecological procedures. PID can lead to heavy bleeding.(ALSO READ Treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome with yoga: These are 5 yoga asanas for PCOS treatment )

Uterine Adenomyosis: Adenomyosis is a condition where the cells of the uterus grow and your uterus becomes enlarged. This can cause heavy and painful bleeding.

Other reasons: There are several other reasons that cause heavy bleeding like thyroid problems, kidney or liver disease, anti-inflammatory medication, bleeding disorder and endometriosis.

Treatments for menorrhagia or heavy menstrual bleeding

You need to consult your doctor if you experience heavy bleeding as he will be able to suggest the most effective treatment. Treatments will be based on the cause of the condition. Birth control pills are prescribed to regulate the hormones of your body. In some cases, the doctor removes the uterus lining and there are several methods to remove the lining of the uterus. Some medications can also be prescribed in some cases to reduce the heavy flow. Surgery is also another option if you have fibroids or polyps. Removing or reducing its size may improve your condition. In severe cases, the doctor may suggest surgery to remove the uterus, which is called as Hysterectomy.

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