Everyone who menstruates loses blood each month — that’s just part of the deal during your fertile years. If your flow is especially heavy, however, it may indicate a medical condition that needs treatment. And regardless, heavy menstrual flow can bring challenges, from potentially significant discomfort to distractions and inconvenience.
At Melissa Grier, MD Women’s Healthcare in Pasadena, California, Dr. Grier is pleased to provide diagnostics and treatment for underlying causes of heavy menstruation. If you’re concerned about your own monthly flow, read on.
Signs your periods are abnormally heavy
On average, a healthy period leads to about six to eight teaspoons or up to around 16 teaspoons of blood loss. When you lose notably more than that, due to really heavy flow or bleeding that lasts for more than seven days, you may be experiencing menorrhagia, the technical term for heavy periods.
Other signs of heavy periods include:
- Passing blood clots that surpass the size of a quarter
- Needing to walk up to change your pad or tampon during the night
- Needing to double up on pads for enough protection
- Needing to restrict your daily activities because of your flow
- Soaking through one or more pads or tampons hourly for several hours
- Symptoms of anemia, like fatigue, shortness of breath, and exhaustion
Heavy periods can happen consistently, with every cycle, or come on suddenly during one period. In both cases, seeking medical support is important for ensuring your overall health.
Causes of heavy periods
A range of factors can fuel heavy menstruation. Many causes involve a hormone imbalance, which may be brought on by conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, insulin resistance, and thyroid disorders. Certain types of birth control can also offset hormonal balance leading to heavy bleeding.
Additional causes of heavy periods include:
- Cervical or uterine cancer, especially after menopause
- Growths, such as polyps or uterine fibroids
- Inherited bleeding disorders, such as Willebrand’s disease
- Kidney or liver disease
- Ovary dysfunction
- Medications, such as anti-inflammatories and anticoagulants
- Pregnancy complications or miscarriage
Treatment for heavy periods
Getting treatment for the cause of your heavy menstruation is important. If you ignore your symptoms, such a cause can go undiagnosed and worsen over time while leading to complications such as anemia. And severe cases, such as cancer, are easiest to effectively treat early on.
If you’re experiencing heavy periods, Dr. Grier will conduct a comprehensive exam to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms, as well as the best treatment. Based on her assessment, your recommended treatment may include medications, lifestyle changes, or a procedure, such as a minimally-invasive robotic procedure to remove endometrial tissue or a hysterectomy.
Learn more about heavy periods or get the treatment you need by calling our office or scheduling an appointment with Dr. Grier through our online booking feature.