When it comes to your menstrual cycle, you likely have an idea of what to expect regarding discomfort, changes in mood, or menstrual flow. Some months vary, so changes, including heavy bleeding (menorrhagia), from time to time may not seem unusual.
But when does it go from occasional heavy bleeding to needing medical attention?
Women in the Lake Mary, Florida, area concerned about heavy bleeding during their periods can turn to board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Christopher Quinsey and our skilled medical staff. With over two decades of experience serving Florida residents and their obstetric and gynecological needs, we’re dedicated to helping you with compassionate and thorough care.
About 10 million American women annually report problems with heavy menstrual bleeding, making it one of the most common concerns among women. Let’s look at some causes of heavy bleeding, when it may need medical attention, and how we can treat it.
What causes heavy bleeding during menstruation?
Menorrhagia generally refers to bleeding that lasts longer than a week or the loss of more blood than is normal during menstruation.
Heavy bleeding is common enough to affect up to 54% of women and can be the result of many different factors. These include:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Uterine fibroids
- Dysfunction in your ovaries
- Adenomyosis (when glands from the endometrium get embedded in uterine muscle)
- Pregnancy complications
Some medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, hormonal medications, and anticoagulants, can also cause heavy bleeding.
When do I need help for heavy periods?
You may need to seek medical attention if heavy bleeding comes with other symptoms like:
- Severe abdominal pain (dysmenorrhea)
- Losing more than 800 milliliters of blood during your period (35-40 milliliters is considered normal)
- Having to change sanitary protection during the night
- Having to restrict activities because of heavy flow
- Any vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Bleeding between periods
If you lose enough blood that you experience signs of anemia (too little iron in your blood), then you need medical attention, as the condition can be life-threatening. Anemia symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, pale or yellowish skin, chest pain, headaches, and lightheadedness.
How do you treat heavy periods?
Treatment varies depending on the severity of the bleeding, your health, and your medical history.
To treat heavy bleeding, Dr. Quinsey may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), tranexamic acid, oral contraceptives, oral progesterone, or hormonal IUDs. These medications can help correct hormonal imbalances, reduce menstrual blood loss, and better regulate menstrual cycles.
Iron supplements may be necessary if you’re dealing with anemia.
If medications are not successful in treating heavy bleeding, Dr. Quinsey may recommend surgical procedures, including:
- Dilation and curettage (D&C), during which Dr. Quinsey dilates your cervix and suctions tissue from the lining of your uterus
- Uterine artery embolization, which cuts the blood supply to shrink fibroids if you’re dealing with issues related to uterine fibroids
- Focused ultrasound surgery, which uses ultrasound to shrink and destroy uterine fibroids
- Myomectomy, surgical removal of uterine fibroids
- Endometrial ablation, using a laser to destroy endometrial tissue responsible for heavy bleeding
- Endometrial resection, using an electrosurgical wire to remove endometrial tissue
- Hysterectomy, surgical removal of your cervix and uterus, which ends your menstrual cycle altogether
Heavy periods every once in a while are not unusual, but if you’re experiencing other symptoms unrelated to your normal cycle, make an appointment with Dr. Quinsey today.