Most women experience heavy flow and cramps during their menstrual cycle. Nevertheless, it is quite uncommon to have the medical condition commonly referred to as ‘heavy periods’ or menorrhagia.
Menorrhagia or ‘heavy periods’ occur when a woman’s menstrual cycle lasts more than 7 days. In other words, a woman is said to be having heavy periods if she experiences excessive menstrual bleeding over several menstrual cycles in a row, which may interfere with her physical and emotional quality of life.
Heavy periods are caused by subtle health issues that can result in other health problems. If you notice that you soak through a tampon or a pad regularly, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor.
However, since the amount of blood loss as a result of this medical condition often varies from woman to woman, making it rather difficult to give a basic description of heavy periods. We have been able to gather some signs and symptoms of heavy periods. Read on to get a clear and concise view.
You might be having heavy periods if you notice any of the following:
About 75% of women from 24 to 40 years of age with heavy periods, often have no underlying reason for this medical condition. However, the conditions listed below can sometimes lead to heavy periods in women:
Endometriums are cells that line the inside of the womb. Endometriosis occurs when these cells are present or found in the outer lining of the uterus, like the ovaries or fallopian tubes. This may lead to heavy periods, accompanied by chronic pelvic pain, menstrual cramps and pain during sex.
Benign or non-cancerous growth of tumours in the womb may also lead to heavy periods.
Some birth control devices, like intrauterine device, that is often inserted into the womb can increase blood loss during periods.
Although they only occur in rare cases, where adequate care is not taken, it can lead to heavy periods.
Pelvic inflammatory diseases are infections in the pelvic area of a woman. Sometimes, chronic PID can lead to heavy periods.
This is a condition of having multiple cysts, which are non-cancerous. These cysts, although small, usually grow in the ovaries, and may lead to heavy and irregular periods, as well as other irregularities like excess weight and facial hair.
Every month, linings built up inside a woman womb, pour out in drops or small quantities during their menstrual flow. In cases where hormone levels are not correctly balanced, the body can thicken the lining, which results in heavy bleeding, especially when you shed the thicker lining.
When the male sperm and female egg meet, the growing ball of this cell implants itself in the outer layer of the uterus, rather than the inside. This is often called an ectopic pregnancy. When this occurs, it may lead to serious health problems like heavy bleeding, which is often mistaken for a heavy period.
Some medications, like warfarin that are often used to thin periods, can also lead to heavy periods.
Other medical conditions or health issues like coagulation disorders and endometrial hyperplasia can also lead to heavy periods.
To find out if a woman has heavy periods is not an easy task, because people often perceive heavy periods in different ways. Generally, menstrual bleeding lasts for 4 to 5 days, and the amount of blood lost during this process is minimal. On the other hand, women who have heavy periods usually bleed for more than 7 days and lose more blood than necessary.
When you bleed for more than 7 days per period, or you notice that your period is heavy, such that you have to change your pad nearly every hour, then you may need to see your doctor.
Your doctor should be able to carry out any of the following assessments, depending on the severity of your condition:
Your doctor or a specialist nurse will ask some questions about your medical history; the nature of your bleeding and some other issues relating to the symptoms you have been experiencing. Generally, this may include the following:
Your doctor can also perform one or more of the following blood tests:
Your clinician or doctor may decide to perform a pelvic examination, to check for enlarged womb or the presence of fibroids. Some of these pelvic examinations may include the following:
The procedure involves using a telescope usually referred to as the hysteroscope, to examine the shape and lining of the womb. This helps to check for fibroids, overgrowth and polyps in the lining of the uterus
It involves the examination of the womb with the use of ultrasound waves to create images of structures in the pelvis. The investigation is painless and can be done either through a trans-abdominal scan or a transvaginal scan. Most clinicians prefer the transvaginal scan since it produces a clearer image of the womb
When a pelvic scan shows that the endometrium is thicker than expected, an endometrial biopsy can be taken to find out the reason for this thickness. The process will involve the insertion of a straw-like tube via the vagina, into the womb. You may experience some crampy pain and a small amount of spotting during this process.
Generally, the type of treatment you get often depends on the reason for your bleeding and the severity of the problem. Your doctor will also make use of information like your age, general health condition, medical history, how well you respond to some medications, procedures, your therapies and your needs to decide the suitable treatment for you. For example, while some women want to ensure they can still have children in the future, others may be indifferent about giving birth in the future.
All these will be considered before prescribing medications for you. Ensure you discuss your needs and options with your doctor, to ensure you get the best result. Below are some common treatment types utilised by clinicians or doctors to treat heavy periods:
Surgical treatment may be considered when medical treatments are not effective in resolving the issue. You can only resssort to this method when there is no desire for pregnancy in the future. The following is a list of surgical treatments that can be used for your treatment.
Neglecting issues like this is not an option at all, especially in situations where your condition is severe. Continuous heavy periods for an extended period may lead to anaemia, tiredness, breathlessness and in some cases, a sudden collapse that may need a blood transfusion.
You can only decide to neglect treatment if you feel there is no serious reason for your heavy bleeding, and your periods do not necessarily interfere with your daily activities.
Whether or not you decide to have medical or surgical treatment, it is essential to have a balanced diet with low fats and high iron content like red meat, spinach, and cereal. This will help in keeping your blood iron level within its normal limits. Some habits like regular exercise, refraining from alcohol and smoking can also help to keep you healthy.
Heavy periods are quite common among women. Regardless, a lot of women barely realise that they can easily seek a solution to this abnormality. A reasonable fraction of women with heavy periods may refuse to find answers to this abnormality because they are often too embarrassed to talk with a doctor about their problem.
Ensure you open up to your doctor for prompt diagnosis with the right and suitable treatment option for your specific issue.
Should you have any questions and concerns about heavy periods you would love us to help you with; please call us.