Heavy periods


 

Heavy periods

The number of women experiencing heavy periods during their menstrual cycle in the USA is estimated at 30-40%. There are treatments available that can help lessen menstrual bleeding and reduce symptoms.

What is a period?

A period, or menstrual cycle, is the regular shedding of the uterine lining that occurs in response to hormonal fluctuations. During a normal period, women typically experience bleeding and other uncomfortable symptoms like cramping and nausea. While many women experience periods without complications, some may be affected by heavy periods, which can cause significant physical and emotional distress.

What is a heavy period?

A normal period is considered to be less than 80ml (about 2.8 ounces) in a single cycle. Heavy bleeding is defined as losing more than 80 ml of blood in a single cycle. Blood loss during a menstrual period can lead to anemia and fatigue.

How heavy is too heavy for a period?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as what may be considered heavy for one woman may be normal for another. However, most experts agree that losing more than 80 ml of blood during a single menstrual cycle is considered heavy bleeding.

a woman experiencing heavy period

What causes heavy periods?

Excessive bleeding can be caused by a variety of medical conditions. Sometimes this can result from benign (non-cancerous) conditions such as:

  • Hormonal imbalances including from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Polyps
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Endometriosis. This is a condition in which the tissue that forms the lining of your uterus grows outside your uterus.
  • Fibroids. These are non-cancerous growths in or on your uterus.
  • Adenomyosis. This is a condition in which the tissue that forms the lining of your uterus starts to grow into the muscle wall of your uterus.

Other benign, noncancerous causes include:

  • Certain medications (e.g., anticoagulants also called blood thinners, anti-inflammatory drugs - NSAIDs - which reduce inflammation)
  • inherited bleeding disorders (blood clotting disorders) can cause prolonged bleeding

Cancerous conditions that can cause excessive bleeding include:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Uterine sarcoma

The blood loss can lead to the passage of large blood clots from the uterine cavity.

What other physical symptoms can uterine fibroids cause?

In addition to heavy periods, uterine fibroids can cause a variety of other symptoms, including:

  • Iron deficiency anemia even severe anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Pelvic pain even severe pain
  • Urinary frequency or urgency
  • Constipation 

 

How can I stop or reduce menstrual bleeding?

There are several ways to stop or reduce menstrual bleeding. These include:

  • Hormonal birth control: This can be taken in the form of pills, injections, implants, or intrauterine devices (IUDs).
  • Antifibrinolytic drugs: These medications can help to reduce bloody menstrual flow by preventing the breakdown of clots.
  • Endometrial ablation: This is a procedure that involves destroying the lining of the uterus. It is often used as a last resort for women who have failed to respond to other treatments. It is one of the surgical procedures where pregnancy will not be possible afterward
  • Hysterectomy: This is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. It is usually only considered as a last resort for women who have failed to respond to other treatments. This is a more major operation for vaginal bleeding and painful periods. Pregnancy will not be possible after this procedure.
  • Uterine artery embolization: This is a new, minimally invasive, outpatient, same-day procedure to stop bleeding during menstrual periods that will spare your uterus and not affect pregnancy.

If you are concerned about heavy menstrual bleeding, talk to your doctor. They will be able to diagnose the cause of your symptoms and recommend the most appropriate treatment for treating heavy periods.

Prolonged menstrual bleeding can be a major source of physical and emotional distress for many women. If you are concerned about heavy menstrual bleeding, talk to your doctor. They will be able to diagnose the cause of your symptoms and recommend the most appropriate treatment.

What do large blood clots during a period mean?

Large blood clots during a period can be a sign that your body is experiencing abnormal levels of hormonal activity. There are many possible causes of excessive menstrual bleeding, including fibroids, infections, and hormone imbalance. If you are experiencing large blood clots during your period, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause of your prolonged menstrual bleeding and get appropriate treatment. Some possible treatments for heavy menstrual bleeding may include hormonal birth control pills or other hormone-regulating therapies, antifibrinolytic drugs to reduce blood loss and prevent clot breakdown, or surgery such as uterine ablation or hysterectomy. Whatever the cause, it is important to work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that addresses your abnormal uterine bleeding.

What are the effects of heavy periods?

Heavy menstrual bleeding can lead to anemia, which is a condition where there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, shortness of breath, and pale skin. If you think you might have heavy periods, speak with your doctor.

What are treatments for heavy periods?

There are several different treatment options to manage heavy periods, ranging from medication to surgical interventions. These include hormone therapy to correct a hormone imbalance, treatment to reduce inflammation in the uterus or limit blood flow (such as tranexamic acid). Other options include specialized procedures such as endometrial ablation or uterine fibroid embolization to remove excess tissue in the uterus that may be contributing to heavy bleeding.

How do Imaging & Interventional Specialists determine the cause of your heavy bleeding?

After obtaining a history and physical, blood tests, and in conjunction with your treatment team, a decision is made on the best imaging test for you. The most common tests used for examination include ultrasound, MRI, and sonohysterography (an ultrasound procedure that creates a better view of the inside of your uterus)

If the cause of my heavy periods is uterine fibroids what can I do?

Imaging & Interventional Specialists use a new, same-day, "pinhole" procedure to treat fibroids called uterine fibroid embolization to restore your quality of life.

Imaging & Interventional Specialists offer FDA-approved treatments (non-surgical treamtments) for uterine fibroids.

 

Call us now or schedule an appointment to discuss your condition and your options.

 

What is uterine fibroid embolization?

Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that can be used to treat heavy menstrual bleeding. The procedure involves inserting a catheter into the uterine arteries and injecting small particles to block the blood flow to the fibroids. This can shrink the fibroids and reduce heavy bleeding.

What are the side effects of uterine fibroid embolization?

The most common side effect of uterine fibroid embolization is cramping. Other possible side effects may include fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Who performs uterine fibroid embolization?

Uterine fibroid embolization is typically performed by interventional radiologists.

What is the recovery time for uterine fibroid embolization?

Most women who have uterine fibroid embolization can go home the same day. It is important to take it easy for the first few days after the procedure and avoid strenuous activity. Recovery times vary, but most women return to everyday life within days.

a healthy and happy Asian woman

 

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