Symptoms Of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
- bleeding for more than eight days
- heavy blood loss during the menstrual period for example, soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several hours in a row
- needing to change your pad or tampon during the night
- have to change or restrict your daily activities due to your heavy bleeding
- bleeding or spotting between periods
- cramping and pain in the lower abdomen
- any vaginal bleeding after menopause.
If you think you may be experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding, you may find it useful to keep a pictorial blood loss assessment chart this can help you give your doctor an idea of how heavy your period is.
What You Can Do
Period changes and physical symptoms related to perimenopause can interfere with daily life. Thankfully, there are ways to cope with these changes and live a more comfortable life during perimenopause.
Since perimenopause symptoms are unpredictable, its best to plan. This includes preparing for hot flashes by wearing light clothing, bringing extra tampons or pads with you, and drinking in moderation.
Additional treatments and lifestyle changes include:
- Keeping up with exercise
- Using a lubricant or vaginal moisturizer
- Starting hormone replacement therapy
When Is It Time To Schedule A Visit With Your Practitioner
Youre the person who knows your body best, so consider going to a doctor if you detect any changes in your usual menstrual cycle. If you believe you are suffering from menorrhagia or hypomenorrhea, your doctor will be the best person to diagnose and treat the underlying cause.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor will perform a physical examination. They can also order imaging tests or blood tests to determine what is causing your abnormal menstrual bleeding. Once you have a diagnosis, they will also be able to prescribe treatment and other lifestyle changes to help you get better.
Many causes of abnormal menstrual bleeding are treated through the use of hormonal contraceptives. If youre suffering from anemia, your doctor could also prescribe supplements and dietary changes. A doctor or nutritionist will be able to advise you on what to eat after blood loss. These dietary changes could include eating more protein, citrus fruits, and leafy greens to improve your hemoglobin levels.
There are many things that can cause abnormal menstrual bleeding. Whether your period is too light, too heavy, short, long, or irregular, it can cause distress and other physical symptoms.
The easiest way to start dealing with any menstrual issues is by tracking your cycle. That way, youll have plenty of information for your doctor, and youll learn more about the way your body works.
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Whats The Average Blood Loss During Your Period
The average amount of blood lost during your period is actually only 30 to 72 milliliters . Some research also suggests the average is closer to 60 milliliters . Either way, its definitely a lot less than it feels like.
But these are only averages, and your average blood loss during menstruation may be different.
What Are Heavy Periods
The amount of blood lost during a period varies a lot between women. This makes it difficult to give a general description of heavy periods. The amount of blood lost can also vary at different times in your life, including if you have had surgery or take medication. However, most women have a good idea of how much bleeding is normal for them during their period and can tell when this changes.
|A good indication that your periods are heavy is if you:|
Heavy periods can lead to a drop of iron levels and red blood cells. This means you may feel tired more easily, feel weak or dizzy or be short of breath and have chest pains.
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Blood Clots During Your Period: What Are They
Pay attention to the following facts about blood clots during your period to better understand them:
- The walls of your uterus tend to change little by little to prepare for a possible pregnancy. They become thicker and fill with new tissue to support a fetus in the event of conception.
- In the absence of a pregnancy, your body slowly releases the extra layers from the lining of your uterus. This is what we call menstruation.
- When your body suffers from a wound, your blood tends to clot. This is your bodys natural defense to keep you from losing too much blood. During your period, however, the blood needs to flow more freely in order to be expelled.
- As a result, your uterus produces an anticoagulant. If your period is very heavy, this anticoagulant runs out and youll likely notice some blood clots.
- These clots often vary in size from 5 mm to 2 inches, and are more common in women who have very heavy periods. Those with lighter periods may never experience these symptoms.
- Another point to remember is that the clots are often formed while you sleep. As such, your body may sometimes form a larger, thicker mass, which can be alarming. Equally, its also normal for your period to disturb your sleep.
How Can Heavy Bleeding Affect You
- feel fatigued, exhausted, dizzy and look pale
- have low iron levels because of the blood loss
- have cramping and pain in the lower abdomen
- need to change sanitary products very frequently
- fear bleeding through to your clothes, which can affect your daily activities.
Listen to a podcast
Jean Hailes Medical Director, Dr Elizabeth Farrell, discusses heavy menstrual bleeding through a personal story with a woman who suffered heavy periods for more than 25 years.
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Causes Of Menstrual Clots
During menstruation, the endometrial cells that line the uterus strip away and leave the body.
As this happens, the body releases proteins that cause the blood in the uterus to coagulate. This coagulation prevents the blood vessels in the uterine lining from continuing to bleed.
The blood that the body has already shed also contains these coagulation proteins.
When the flow is most substantial, the coagulation proteins within the blood may start to clump together, resulting in menstrual clots.
This generally occurs when menstrual blood pools in the uterus or vagina before leaving the body.
Although it is normal to have clots in the blood during menstruation, this symptom can sometimes signal a medical issue. It is advisable to seek medical advice if the clots:
- are larger than a quarter in size
- are very frequent
- occur with an abnormally heavy flow that requires a person to change their pad or tampon at least every 12 hours
- occur with significant pain
The following conditions may cause abnormal menstrual clots:
When To See Your Doctor
If bleeding is so heavy that you must replace a pad or tampon every hour, talk with your doctor.
Likewise, if your period prevents you from doing normal activities because of pain, cramping, and heavy bleeding, its time to see your doctor.
During a visit, your doctor may:
- conduct a physical exam
- request your health history
- request that your symptoms be recorded
They may also order a biopsy or imaging tests to look more closely at your uterus.
Its difficult to know if your period is considered normal or heavy without your doctors help. Theyll be your guide in the process of figuring out if an underlying issue is the reason for your heavy periods.
Typical treatments for heavy periods focus on regulating blood flow. Some treatments can also eliminate symptoms such as pain and cramping.
If an underlying condition is causing your heavy bleeding, treating it may eliminate your unusually heavy periods.
Typical treatments for heavy periods include:
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How Do You Know If Your Bleeding Is Too Heavy
It is very difficult to determine whether your bleeding is too heavy. The best guide is to decide whether your period is having an impact on your quality of life if it is causing you to be housebound, interrupting your daily activities, or causing you stress and anxiety. The following signs might indicate you are experiencing heavy bleeding:
- bleeding or ‘flooding’ not contained within a pad/tampon
- changing a pad/tampon every hour or less
- changing a pad overnight
- clots greater than a 50-cent piece in size
- bleeding for more than seven to eight days.
Iron Deficiency And Anaemia
If you have heavy periods each month, one of the key things to watch out for is iron deficiency. One of the most common causes of iron deficiency is prolonged or heavy periods. This can leave you feeling tired and lacking energy. In some cases, this can even lead to anaemia.
Ask your doctor or nurse if you need a blood test to check your ferritin and full blood count. If your results indicate your iron is low, you may need to also take iron supplements.
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What Counts A Heavy Period Or Menorrhagia
Roughly 1 in 3 women would say that their periods are heavy. But, because it is difficult to know for sure how much blood do you lose on your period, its hard to know if your period is normal or heavy as compared to other women. Some women who think they have heavy periods are average. Some women who think they have normal periods actually have heavy periods. Around 90% of the blood loss from your period occurs in the first three days with both regular and heavy periods.
The medical definition of a heavy period is a blood loss of 60-80ml or more. Thats about half a teacup. Since it is difficult to measure the amount of blood you lose during a period, for practical purposes, a heavy period is:
- when you often flood through clothing or bedding
- when you frequently need to change sanitary napkins or tampons
- when you need double the protection
- when you pass large blood clots
Menorrhagia is a heavy flow that persists from month to month. The blood loss also causes issues with your quality of life. It affects your ability to move around, go out, or work. It can occur on its own or with other symptoms.
What Can You Do About It
There are a few different things you can try to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding:
Key Points About Heavy Period Bleeding
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You Have Excruciating Migraines Before Or During Your Period
If migraines were even remotely considerate, theyd at least leave you alone when youre about to get your period. Unfortunately, period migraines are another issue you can add to the list of common period problems.
Its not that menstruation will just randomly cause migraines in unsuspecting people who have never had one, but people with a history of migraines may experience them before or during their periods, according to the Mayo Clinic, which adds that this may be due to estrogen fluctuations. They tend to get the headache right as they go into their periods, and it seems to get better after they have had their menses for a day or two, Dr. Minkin says.
If youre dealing with this, your typical migraine medication may work for you. As you probably know if youve grappled with migraines, the treatment options are legion. They include pain-relieving medications to relieve symptoms ASAP and preventive drugs to ward off migraines altogether, according to the Mayo Clinic. In the former camp, you have choices like anti-nausea meds and triptans, which constrict swollen blood vessels and block pain pathways in the brain. In the latter, youve got meds like tricyclic antidepressants, which affect brain chemicals like serotonin that may be implicated in migraines.
What Are Period Clots
During menstruation, the hormones in your body cause the lining of your uterus to begin shedding. During that process, small blood vessels bleed. To prevent your body from losing too much blood, plasma and platelets work together to form blood clots.
Blood clots will form anytime you have a certain amount of blood that just sits there, Dr. Zanotti says. Blood clots are supposed to happen to some degree, like when you cut yourself. But with period clots, what happens is if youre having a good amount of bleeding, it collects inside your uterus and as it sits there it will make a clot.
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What Foods Make Your Period Heavier
Watch out!Your diet can make your periods heavier!
- Beetroots. Beetroots are loaded with iron, calcium, vitamins, potassium, folic acid and fibres.
- Chocolates. Yes, they are great for your bad moods and cramps but, do you know that eating chocolates while menstruating can make your periods heavy?
Blood Disorders Related To Heavy Periods
The three most common blood disorders we see in young women with heavy periods are:
- Von Willebrand disease : A genetic disorder caused by a defective or missing clotting protein called the von Willebrand factor if left untreated, people can bleed heavily with monthly cycles, surgeries, and dental procedures, as well as develop anemia
- Platelet disorders: When platelets, a type of cells in the blood, do not function properly, increasing the likelihood of bleeding.
- Hemophilia carriers or problems with other clotting factors: When women have an abnormal X chromosome that carries a hemophilia gene, which can cause her to bleed longer than usual after an injury, bruise easily, experience heavy periods, and even experience microbleeding inside their joints.
To properly identify the cause of heavy bleeding, we have in-depth conversations with patients about family history, because many of the bleeding disorders have a genetic component to them. If we feel that a patient might have a bleeding disorder, we do further testing to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Over time, excessive blood loss can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, a condition in which blood lacks healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen to tissues throughout the body.
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