What Causes Heavy Periods and How to Treat Them?
Heavy flow at the beginning of your period is common. Many women experience a pad leak at some point in their lives. However, if you change your sanitary products every hour because you bleed through them even on your last days of menstruation, you could have chronic heavy periods.
Continue reading to learn more about heavy periods, its possible causes and treatments.
What is a heavy period?
Also known as menorrhagia, it is a medical condition when the bleeding lasts longer than seven days and the flow is more than during regular menstruation.
It is a common disorder that affects one in every five women. But since every woman is different, it can be hard to determine whether what you believe to be "normal" for your cycle would actually be a heavy period. In fact, half of the women who have menorrhagia are unaware of it.
While consulting a doctor is the best way to determine whether your condition is chronic, you can look for common menorrhagia symptoms, which include:
- Have periods longer than seven days
- You change one or more tampons or pads every hour
- You change your pad or tampon during the night
- Wear two sanitary pads at a time to avoid leaking
- Observe blood clots the size of a quarter or larger
- Skip daily activities due to painful cramps
Heavy menstrual bleeding , if left untreated, can result in anaemia, a condition in which the body does not have enough red blood cells to carry the required amount of oxygen. Other physical symptoms that may occur as a result of this include:
- Iron deficiency
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
What causes heavy periods?
Your body's hormones, such as progesterone and oestrogen, help regulate your menstrual cycle, including how heavy and long your periods are. A disorder that alters your hormone levels can cause heavy menstrual bleeding. Causes include:
- Thyroid disease
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Being overweight can also affect how your body produces hormones, resulting in menorrhagia.
Your body reacts to changes around you. Thus, significant changes in your life can impact your menstrual cycle. It’s common to have heavy menstrual bleeding after childbirth or pregnancy or when your body enters menopause (perimenopause). Even stress can lead to irregular periods.
3.Medication or birth control changes:
Some medications, especially blood thinners and aspirin, can cause heavy periods.
Changes in birth control can also affect the length of your menstrual cycle and the amount you bleed. Opting for a copper intrauterine device (IUD), for example, can result in heavier periods
for 3 to 6 months after insertion. If you notice changes in your period after starting a medication or birth control, consult your doctor.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue that lines the woman's uterus grows outside the uterus. As your body sheds the thickened uterine lining, it can cause short period cycles and heavy, painful periods
5.Non-cancerous growths in the uterus:
Non-cancerous growths can affect the size of your uterus and cause heavier flow or longer periods. Some causes include:
- Endometrial polyps
- Uterine fibroidss
If your doctor discovers fibroids or polyps in your uterus, they may recommend removing them to treat your heavy periods.
6.Cancerous growths in the uterus:
Heavy menstrual bleeding can be a symptom of conditions that raise your risk of developing cancer, such as endometrial hyperplasia, as well as cancers that damage your reproductive system. These conditions include:
- Uterine cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
The following pregnancy problems can cause heavy bleeding:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- C-section: Several caesarean sections can result in a scar that forms a pocket in your uterus. That pocket can hold blood, which you can bleed later.
8.Other medical conditions
Some common medical conditions that can cause heavy bleeding:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Leukaemia or platelet disorders
How can I stop heavy periods?
Consulting your doctor to know the underlying cause of your heavy periods is essential for treatment. Some of the most common menorrhagia treatments include:
1.NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
Some NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, can relieve menorrhagia pain and make your periods lighter. They reduce the amount of prostaglandins in your uterine lining, hormones that cause pain and bleeding.
While ibuprofen is beneficial, certain NSAIDs, such as aspirin, that have blood-thinning effects should not be used because they may worsen bleeding.
Pills, patches, hormonal IUDs, and other hormonal birth control methods can help you control heavy menstrual bleeding.
Hormonal birth control may thin the uterine lining, reducing blood and tissue loss during the menstrual cycle.u
Furthermore, birth control can be used to shorten your cycle or alleviate painful cramps. If you are approaching menopause or perimenopause, birth control may help you manage menopause symptoms.
Regular hormonal therapy can be used to reduce heavy bleeding caused by hormonal imbalances. It can help thin the uterine lining and keep your hormones balanced. Hormone therapy can also be used to treat conditions that cause pain and menstrual bleeding, such as endometriosis.
Doctors can prescribe medications other than NSAIDs to treat menorrhagia symptoms. These medicines include:
- Desmopressin can help prevent blood clots from breaking down by releasing clotting protein, which may reduce heavy bleeding.
- Antifibrinolytic drugs, such as tranexamic acid, may help reduce bleeding by preventing clots from dissolving.
Although dietary changes cannot prevent menorrhagia, they can help with resulting complications.
- An iron-rich diet can help prevent anaemia. Consume iron-rich foods such as red meat, seafood, beans, nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables.
- Consuming vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, bell peppers, and broccoli can help your body absorb the extra iron in your diet.
- Avoid foods high in processed sugar, trans fats, and starchy carbohydrates, as these can aggravate menorrhagia symptoms.
Some surgical techniques can help cure heavy period flow. If your doctor discovers polyps, fibroids, or endometriosis, they may advise you to have them surgically removed.
When should I see a doctor?
You don't have to put with having frequent heavy menstrual bleeding. Consult your doctor if your periods interfere with your daily life activities.
Your doctor will be able to determine the cause of your heavy bleeding during periods. They may perform a physical exam or order tests such as a blood test, PAP test, or ultrasound before recommending effective treatments. Some common tests include:
- A blood test is used to check hormone levels and detect anaemia or clotting problems.
- Pap test helps examine cervix cells for signs of infection, inflammation, or other abnormal changes.
- Ultrasound is a type of imaging that uses sound waves to detect pelvic organ dysfunction and blood flow problems.
- Hysteroscopy is a procedure in which the uterus is examined for fibroids, polyps, and other bleeding abnormalities using a small, flexible camera.
- Sonohysterogram is a type of ultrasound performed while your uterus is filled with liquid to provide a better view of the uterine lining.
- An endometrial biopsy involves taking samples from your uterine lining to see if any unusual or cancerous cells are present.
A heavy period is common and can be generally managed with lifestyle changes. Sanitary products such as period panties can keep you comfortable during heavy flows to perform daily tasks.
However, it is best to consult a doctor to determine the underlying cause for effective treatment.