What Is Heavy Bleeding
Heavy menstrual bleeding is excessive and/or prolonged menstrual bleeding. The amount varies from woman to woman and can change at different stages in your life for example, in teenage years or approaching menopause. It is defined as blood loss greater than 80ml per cycle, or periods lasting more than seven to eight days. Heavy menstrual bleeding affects about one in five women and is a common problem in the 30-50-year-old age group.
Heavy bleeding fact sheet
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 low iron levels and anaemia. These can cause you to feel tired more easily, feel weak or dizzy, be short of breath or have chest pains.
Why Does Your Cycle Evolve As You Age And What Are Some Changes To Expect As I Enter Perimenopause
Your hormones regulate your cycle, so the hormonal changes that happen throughout your life can affect your period. This is especially true when you enter perimenopause and begin to experience changes related to the disruption of hormone production.
While lower estrogen levels are responsible for symptoms like night sweats, the decrease in progesterone that happens when women stop ovulating can lead to issues like erratic periods or heavy bleeding. Perimenopause, which typically lasts around four years, can also intensify PMS symptoms like mood swings, anxiety and rage.
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What Are The Concerns
Heavy bleeding during adolescence may be short term or it could continue into adulthood. An examination by Dr. Deborah L. Russell will help to define a problem if there is one.
Anemia could be a direct result of losing too much blood. There are a number of underlying reasons that could be contributing to the excessive bleeding and tests should be taken to determine if that is the case.
In many cases the heavy bleeding of young adolescents will moderate as they go through their teen years, you should not hesitate to have it checked, as it could be due to a gynecologic condition.
Contact Dr. Deborah L. Russell at if your daughter is showing signs of bleeding too heavily during menstrual periods.
What If My Period Doesnt Come Or If It Starts When I Am Very Young
If you have not had a first period by the age of 15, or its been more than two to three years since your breasts started developing and you have not had a period, its best to talk to your doctor. If you get your period very young, at nine or ten it is usually just simply that you developed early. However, its a good idea to see your doctor to rule out other underlying medical conditions.
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A Recurring Period Thats Heavy And Painful
If every period is heavy, painful, and difficult to work around, you may have underlying, long-term issues.
Your body typically balances progesterone and estrogen, the two hormones that play the biggest roles in menstruation.
Too much estrogen, however, can lead to a thickened uterine lining. This can cause heavy bleeding as the lining is eliminated during your period.
An underactive thyroid gland may also cause heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding
Roughly 10 to 30 percent of women with heavy periods have a bleeding disorder, such as von Willebrand disease. These disorders can make it difficult to stop your bleeding.
These small growths on the lining of the uterus can make periods heavier.
Fibroids are noncancerous growths of the muscle tissue of the uterus. They can develop on the outside of the uterus, within the wall, or protrude into the cavity or some combination of these.
Cancer in your uterus, cervix, and ovaries is rarely the sole cause of heavy bleeding, but a heavier period may be a symptom.
During this transition before menopause, you may experience hormonal changes and unusually heavy bleeding during your period.
After you have a baby, heavy periods arent uncommon. These changes may be permanent, or your period may return to a flow similar to what you had before getting pregnant.
- painful periods
Could I Have A Polyp
Polyps are soft outgrowths which can arise from the uterus and can cause heavy periods. They are usually benign with prevalence between 6% and 32%.3 Different research shows different prevalences and as polyps dont cause any symptoms apart from bleeding they are often under-diagnosed.
The prevalence usually increases with age which is why complaints of heavy periods/irregular bleeding may occur during menopause.4 It is still not known why polyps cause menorrhagia. A different blood supply to the polyp and impeded blood drainage may contribute to heavy bleeding.5
Polyps can be detected on ultrasound and removed using hysteroscopy . Very rarely can a polyp be cancerous .6 This risk increases with age, with post-menopausal people being most at risk, but there is no way of checking if polyps are cancerous until they are removed and sent to the lab.
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How To Fix Heavy Periods Without Birth Control
If your doctor wants to prescribe the birth control pill for your heavy periods, it is important to ask why they think you have a heavy period in the first place. Use the list above to reference for causes of heavy periods.
In my clinic, we take a full historyI want to know everything about your hormone history and current symptoms. It is from there I can determine the best testing to evaluate your health.
How Can I Stop Heavy Periods
If your doctor determines that an underlying condition is contributing to your heavy menstrual bleeding, treating that condition often helps lighten your periods. But heavy menstrual bleeding can also be effectively treated even if there isnt an underlying medical condition causing it.
The exact treatment plan your doctor recommends will depend on a host of factors, including:
- The underlying cause of the bleeding
- The severity of the condition and the bleeding
- How well you respond to certain treatments
- Your medical history
- Your personal preferences
From there, your doctor may recommend various treatment options:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which are available over the counter and can help reduce blood loss and relieve cramping
- Antifibrinolytic medication, such as tranexamic acid or aminocaproic acid, which are used to improve blood clotting and control bleeding
- Oral contraceptives, such as low-dose birth control pills, to help regulate your menstrual cycle and reduce menstrual bleeding
- Hormone therapy, such as estrogen or progesterone, to address any underlying hormonal imbalance that may contribute to heavy menstrual bleeding
- Hormonal IUDs, which release hormones to help thin the uterine lining and decrease menstrual bleeding and cramping
- Iron supplements to address any underlying anemia
- Nasal sprays to address bleeding disorders such as von Willebrand disease or mild hemophilia
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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?
An Introduction To Heavy Periods
Many women complain of their heavy periods, but what does heavy actually mean? Heavy periods, also called Menorrhagia, are surprisingly common and affect many women.
Although it is often hard to measure how heavy you periods are, generally periods are classed as heavy if you lose over 60ml of blood over the course of each period thats just over 3 tablespoons worth. This can be hard to measure though so throughout this page we discuss some common signs and symptoms that suggest you might be experiencing particularly heavy periods.
We then go on to discuss some common causes and in line with this, some ways in which you can manage your periods going forward if your periods are heavy there are some solutions!
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Could It Be Hypothyroidism
Menstrual abnormalities, particularly menorrhagia, can be one of the first noticeable symptoms of thyroid abnormalities, particularly hypothyroidism.10 The incidence increases with age and thyroid dysfunction can be masked by menopausal symptoms.
The physiology behind menorrhagia in hypothyroidism is anovulation due to thyroid hormone deficiency. Correct levels of thyroid hormone levels are required to produce luteinising hormone which is needed to trigger ovulation. If the balance is disturbed, there can be a delay in LH production. Hypothyroidism can also alter coagulation factors which are required for blood to clot effectively, and therefore this can result in excessive bleeding.11
Are My Periods Too Heavy
If you are worried about your periods being too heavy, you are not alone. Many women ask themselves the same question. Heavy menstrual bleeding, or menorrhagia, happens when you lose too much blood during your period, or bleed for too long. Women with menorrhagia often lose twice as much blood as women with a normal period. One of the biggest immediate risks associated with this kind of blood loss is anemia. Anemia occurs when your body cannot replace lost red blood cells fast enough.
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When To Get Help
As always, you know your body best, and you should never hesitate to get professional help if you think you need it. If you experience any of the following, you should consult your doctor right away:
Sooooo Why Do Some People Have Nightmare Periods From Hell When There Are Other People Out There Getting By With Lite Tampons And Panty Liners
Honestly, sometimes the cause of a heavy period isn’t known some people just bleed more than others, says Minkin. At the same time, here are some things known to be associated with heavy menstrual bleeding :
Structural abnormalities such as fibroids and polyps, which are growths in the uterus. Find out more about the difference between them here.
Irregular ovulation caused by puberty and perimenopause, or medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome and hypothyroidism. This is because when you don’t ovulate regularly, the lining of the uterus can become super thick. So when your period does finally come? “It’s a festival of blood,” says Minkin.
Endometriosis. AKA, a condition where the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus actually grows outside of the uterus .
Pelvic inflammatory disease. AKA, an infection of the female reproductive organs that is often a complication of some STIs, but not always.
Bleeding disorders that cause blood not to clot properly.
Certain medications like blood thinners and aspirin.
Endometrial cancer. But this is rare and usually diagnosed in women who are past menopause meaning that heavy menstrual bleeding is definitely a sign that something isn’t right.
It sounds like a lot thanks, body but don’t fall down a WebMD rabbit hole. Your doctor will help you figure out what’s actually going on.
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When To Be Concerned Or Seek Medical Attention
Having a heavy flow every month for a couple of years straight, can lead to these symptoms described above, which could turn into a serious health problem such as anemia.
It is important to seek medical attention, as early as possible, if you’re having a heavy flow and have been experiencing these symptoms for several months. The doctor will easily check your blood and iron levels to find out if you need supplements to mediate the iron deficiency.
You could also strengthen your diet by adding foods containing iron, like red meat, eggs, whole grain products, peas, beans, vegetables. Preferably, in combination to fruits containing vitamin C, as it supports the absorption of iron. That should also help boost your iron levels.
How To Balance Estrogen And Reduce Heavy Periods
Estrogen dominance sounds scary and intimidating with all those contributing causes and resulting symptoms. But it is reversible! In Beyond the Pill, I explain exactly how you can go about balancing your hormones and restoring estrogen harmony.
When we looked into Toris daily habits there were clues as to why her heavy periods were increasing. Firstly, heavy periods alone can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which in turn makes periods even heavier.
Tori was eating a vegetarian diet, low in iron rich foods and high in refined carbs. She wasnt ready to go back to eating meat, so we made shifts that included eating iron rich vegetables coupled with sources of vitamin C to increase the bioavailability of the iron .
We also started her on a prenatal because her labs were showing she was in need of many nutrients, including iron.
No, Tori wasn’t looking to get pregnant, but she was in need of extra iron. The nice thing about a prenatal is that it not only provides a higher dose of iron, but also other nutrients that help optimize hormones like B6, folate, magnesium, and Vitamin D.
The refined carbs that were loading her plate at every meal meant she wasnt getting enough fiber and it explained why she only had a bowel movement about 4-5 times a week. We increased her vegetables to 5 servings daily and she found she was pooping daily, which helps with eliminating estrogen.
Supplements for Heavy Periods
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Emergency Treatment To Rapidly Stop Heavy Bleeding
Some women have very heavy bleeding during a period. This can cause a lot of blood loss, and distress. One option as an emergency treatment is to take a course of norethisterone tablets. Norethisterone is a progestogen medicine. Progestogens act like the body’s natural progesterone hormones – they control the build-up of cells lining the womb .So, if a period is very heavy or prolonged, your doctor may advise that you take norethisterone tablets. A dose of 5 mg three times daily for 10 days is the usual treatment. Bleeding usually stops within 24-48 hours of starting treatment. If bleeding is exceptionally heavy then 10 mg three times daily may be given. This should then be tapered down to 5 mg three times daily for a week, once your bleeding has stopped.