Heavy bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, affects approximately one out of every five women in the U.S., making it one of the most common issues women report to their doctors. Typically, menstrual bleeding is considered heavy if your tampon or pad needs to be changed every 2 hours, or you pass clots the size of a quarter or larger. If your period falls into this characterization, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. A heavy blood flow not only interrupts the quality of life, but also may lead to anemia, or indicate larger health issues that may require treatment. After proper diagnostics and testing, your doctor will work with you to figure out a plan that is best for you.
If you are unsure whether your period flow qualifies as heavy, here are some additional symptoms to look for:
- Needing to double up on pads
- Needing to change pads/tampons throughout the night
- Bleeding for longer than a week
- Unable to carry out normal daily activities due to menstrual flow
- Persistent cramping in the lower part of the stomach
- Symptoms of anemia, which include a lack of energy, tiredness, and/or shortness of breath
Periods tend to differ from person to person, so if you recognize any of the symptoms, do not hesitate to speak to your provider.
In about half of heavy menstrual bleeding cases, doctors are unable to find any cause. For others, testing may reveal one of the following:
- Cancerous or noncancerous tumors of the cervix and or uterus
- Hormonal imbalances
- A side effect of an IUD
- A side effect of a medication (anti-inflammatory medications, hormonal medications, and anticoagulants have been found to cause heavy menstrual bleeding)
- Pregnancy complications
- Medical conditions such as Adenomyosis, von Willebrand disease (VWD), liver or kidney disease
To rule out any underlying health issues, it is important to receive appropriate testing from your physician.
Treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding varies from case to case, especially if other health issues are present. If your physician finds no underlying conditions, he or she may recommend treatments to help lessen the pain and/or reduce the amount of bleeding. Some treatment options may include:
- Iron supplements (if anemia is present)
- Birth control pills
- Intrauterine contraception
Your physician will determine which treatment is best for your condition and reflects your preferences.
Scheduling Your Visit
When faced with issues such as heavy menstrual bleeding, it is easy to feel a lack of control and agency over our bodies. However, there is no better way to empower and regain trust in both ourselves and our bodies, than to seek out proper care and information. Our doctors are here to provide you with knowledge and care that is unique to you. Contact us today to learn more and take control of your health.