Everything to know about periods and the menstrual cycle
Heavy periods: when to seek professional help
Every girl happens to experience, from time to time, unusually heavy bleeding during menstrual periods. But what is the norm? And what are the causes and treatments of a heavy period? Read on!
Heavy periods or menorrhagia
Heavy periods are a common type of menstrual irregularities. Also known as menorrhagia, this condition is characterized by prolonged periods, lasting more than 7 days, with enough bleeding to soak a pad every hour, for several hours in a row. Some girls even notice the presence of large blood clots in their menstrual flow.
This disorder has the capacity of interfering in your daily life, as it causes cramping, sleeping troubles, fatigue, shortness of breath and iron-deficiency anemia.
What causes heavy periods?
The causes behind heavy menstrual bleeding include hormonal imbalance of estrogen and progesterone, especially in adolescents who have recently started menstruating or women getting close to menopause.
Another common cause is the important development of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). During menstruation, the endometrium is expelled in the form of vaginal bleeding. If the endometrium is excessively developed, it may need more time to be fully shed.
A heavy period can also be caused by the use of certain medications such as blood thinners, or by medical conditions such as liver or kidney disorders, or even by an infection or thyroid irregularity. In some cases, cell overgrowths (polyps) or benign tumors (fibroids) result in heavy periods.
What are the best treatment options?
If you are experiencing heavy bleeding, you should contact your doctor to help you determine the underlying cause. The best treatment option can only be provided based on a clear diagnosis.
Medication treatments usually include ibuprofen and naproxen, which help limit blood loss and reduce cramping as well. However, they won’t affect the length of your period.
In case of endometrial enlargement, hormonal therapy is recommended to stabilize the lining of the uterus and regulate menstrual cycles. If menorrhagia is caused by polyps or fibroids, a small surgical intervention can easily solve the matter.
Since heavy bleeding leads to iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor will probably give you an iron supplement and vitamin C for better iron absorption.
There are also natural ways to consider for the treatment of heavy bleeding. For example, you can lie down and elevate your legs for a while, or place a cold compress on your belly.
Be careful not to perform any physical activity such as weight lifting or running. They would only make things worse.
Heavy bleeding can be uncomfortable, sometimes embarrassing. You should always make sure to keep some extra pads with you, just in case. At night, you can double your protection to avoid disrupting your sleep as much as possible.