Don’t Let Heavy Periods Weigh You Down
Menorrhagia is the medical term for menstrual periods with abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding in consecutive cycles. Although menorrhagia is a common concern, it does not mean there is anything seriously wrong. If your heavy periods cause blood loss and pain to the point that you can’t maintain your usual activities, talk to your doctor. There are many effective treatments for menorrhagia.
A good indication that your blood loss is excessive is if:
• You feel you are using an unusually high number of tampons or pads
• You experience heavy bleeding through to your clothes or bedding
• You need to use tampons and towels together
• Symptoms of anemia, such as tiredness, fatigue or shortness of breath
What causes heavy periods?
Menorrhagia is most often due to a hormonal imbalance that causes menstrual cycles without ovulation (Anovulation). In a normal cycle, the release of an egg from the ovaries stimulates the body’s production of progesterone, the female hormone most responsible for keeping periods regular. When no egg is released, insufficient progesterone can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
Other causes include:
• Cervical or endometrial polyps
• Uterine fibroids
• Non-hormonal intrauterine contraceptive devices. Blood loss may increase by 40-50% after an IUCD is inserted
• Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
• Blood clotting disorders
• An underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
• Cancer of the womb (rare)
Seek medical help if you experience:
• Vaginal bleeding so heavy it soaks at least one pad or tampon an hour for more than a few hours
• Bleeding between periods or irregular vaginal bleeding
• Severe pain – along with excessive bleeding, you may experience painful cramps (dysmenorrhea)
• Vaginal bleeding after menopause
Tests and Treatments
Your doctor will most likely ask about your medical history and menstrual cycles. You may be asked to keep a diary of bleeding and non-bleeding days, including notes on how heavy your flow was and how much sanitary protection you needed to control it. Your doctor will do a physical exam and may recommend tests and procedures such as blood tests; pap smear; endometrial biopsy and ultrasound. Based on these results, your doctor may recommend further testing, including a Hysterocopy – an exam where a tiny camera through your vagina into your uterus.
Specific treatment for menorrhagia is based on a number of factors, such as your overall health and medical history; the cause and severity of the condition; your future childbearing plans and your tolerance for specific medications and procedures. Treatment medications may include iron supplements; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and oral contraceptives. If you have menorrhagia from taking hormone medication, you may be able to treat the condition by changing or stopping your medication.
If medication is not effective, there are a number of surgical procedures that can help.
For treatment enquiries, please contact:
Dr. A S Arun MD DNB CCST, FRCOG, FRANZCOG
Waikiki Specialist Centre
221 Wilmott Drive, Waikiki
Tel: 9550 0300
Fax: 9592 9830