The Shot And The Implant
Methods like the contraceptive injection and the implant suppress ovulation . Most people who donât ovulate due to these progestin-only contraceptives experience shorter, lighter, or occasionally absent bleeding days, though this doesnât always happen .
Unpredictable bleeding, spotting, and prolonged bleeding are common when using these methods, especially during the first few months . These symptoms usually improve with time, but they can continue for some people.
Important Reasons Why Your Periods Are So Heavy
Do you have periods that bleed through two pads? Is your flow so heavy that you have to change your pads or tampons during the night?
Periods can be much more than an inconvenience. There are times when your flow is so heavy that it interferes with daily life. If this sounds like you, you may have heavy period bleeding that is much more than what is considered normal.
But how heavy is too heavy for a period, and what causes them?
Signs To Watch For With Heavy Periods
Here are some signs that menstrual bleeding may be too heavy, and that you should call the doctor:
- The girl is looking pale and feels dizzy and/or weak. If this is happening, you should call your doctor immediately.
- She needs to change her pad or tampon during the night.
- She is bleeding through her clothes.
- She is passing clots that are bigger than an inch wide.
- Her periods are interfering with her ability to go to school, play sports, or otherwise engage in regular activities.
There are many reasons why girls may have heavy periods. The most common reason is simply that the body is just getting started and getting regulated. If that is the case, it usually gets better with time. However, there are other causes as well, which is why its important to see the doctor.
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Your Flow Might Get Heavier
As your ovaries start their normal pre-menopause wind down, your period schedule will get a little wonky. Some months, the egg makes it to release on time and everythings fine, says Dr. Dunsmoor-Su. Some months, its a bit behind, and your period will be late, and some months, it doesn’t make it at all and you skip a month or two. When you miss an ovulation, the lining of the uterus continues to grow, so that when you finally bleed it tends to be heavier.
When Is A Heavy Period Too Heavy
- By Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Its common for girls and their parents to wonder if the bleeding with their periods is too often or too much. Especially in the first few years of having a period, any bleeding can feel like too much. Usually, its not but sometimes it is, and its important for parents to know what to watch for, and when to call the doctor.
In the first couple of years after periods begin, its really normal for periods to be irregular and for some of them to be heavy. At the beginning, periods arent associated with ovulation, and the hormones and hormonal patterns that help regulate periods havent fallen into place yet. If its just the occasional period that is heavy, thats usually nothing to worry about.
Its not always easy to know what counts as a heavy period. As I said, for some girls anything is too much. And while we doctors often ask how often the girl changes her pad or tampon, thats very subjective and dependent on personal preference. Some girls change as soon as there is any blood present or every time they use the bathroom. Others wait until they are completely soaked.
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Do I Need Any Tests If I Have Heavy Periods
See your doctor if your periods change and become heavier than previously. For most women, the cause is unclear and there is no abnormality of the womb or hormones. However, it is very important to get it checked out properly.
A doctor may want to do an internal examination to examine your neck of the womb and also to assess the size and shape of your womb. However, an examination is not always necessary, especially in younger women who do not have any symptoms to suggest anything other than dysfunctional uterine bleeding.A blood test to check for anaemia may be performed. If you bleed heavily each month then you may not take in enough iron in your diet, needed to replace the blood that you lose. This can lead to anaemia which can cause tiredness and other symptoms. Up to 2 in 3 women with recurring heavy periods develop anaemia.If the vaginal examination is normal and there are no other associated symptoms, no further tests may be needed. The diagnosis is usually dysfunctional uterine bleeding and treatment may be started if required. Further tests may be advised for some women, especially if there is concern that there may be a cause for the heavy periods other than dysfunctional uterine bleeding. For example, if you:
If tests are advised then they may include one or more of the following:
Cancer Malignancy And Hyperplasia
Some women may develop an abnormally thick lining of the inside surface of their uterus. This condition is called endometrial hyperplasia and it may cause heavy menstrual bleeding, irregular bleeding or a bloodstained vaginal discharge. In some cases, endometrial hyperplasia may progress to endometrial cancer, a condition that is more common after menopause but can occur in younger women.
Women are at an increased risk of developing endometrial hyperplasia or endometrial cancer if they:
- are over the age of 45 years
- are over 90 kg in weight
- have never had children
- have a family history of endometrial, ovarian or bowel cancer
- have polycystic ovarian syndrome
- carry a gene that increases their cancer risk .
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You Just Switched Up Your Birth Control
If youve just switched to the mini-pills or are coming off oral contraceptives entirely, chances are you will notice a heavier flow. The patch is also associated with lighter periods, so discontinuing use of it may cause your flow to get heavier.
In general, when discontinuing hormonal contraception, your period habits will likely revert to what they were prior to initiating.
When it comes to IUDs, while the hormonal varieties such as Mirena tm, Kyleena tm and Liletta tm are associated with lighter periods, the non-hormonal copper IUD Paraguard tm, may actually cause heavier bleeding in many women.
Your Period Often Takes You By Complete Surprise
An unexpected period is a classic annoying menstrual cycle problem. Pour one out for all the times you thought youd have a period-free vacation, only for it to show up right as you hit the beach. Fun! Irregular periods could be due to a number of different things that are in your control, like stress and travel, Dr. Streicher says. But they can also happen because of various health conditions.
Take thyroid issues, for example. Hypothyroidism, which is when your thyroid gland in your neck doesnt produce enough hormones, can lead to an irregular period, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also cause myriad other symptoms, like heavier than usual periods, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, impaired memory, and more. Treatment typically involves taking medication that mimics the thyroid hormone.
On the flip side, hyperthyroidism, which is when your thyroid gland is overactive, can cause light or infrequent menstruation, along with issues like sudden weight loss, rapid heart rate, increased appetite, and more frequent bowel movements, according to the Mayo Clinic.
PCOS and uterine polyps, which we discussed earlier, could be behind irregular bleeding, too.
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What Causes Heavy Periods
In about half of women with heavy menstrual bleeding, no underlying reason is found.
But there are several conditions and some treatments that can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
Some conditions of the womb and ovaries can cause heavy bleeding, including:
- fibroids non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the womb and can cause heavy or painful periods
- endometriosis where the tissue that lines the womb is found outside the womb, such as in the ovaries and fallopian tubes
- adenomyosis when tissue from the womb lining becomes embedded in the wall of the womb this can also cause painful periods
- pelvic inflammatory disease an infection in the upper genital tract that can cause symptoms like pelvic or abdominal pain, bleeding after sex or between periods, vaginal discharge and a high temperature
- endometrial polyps non-cancerous growths in the lining of the womb or cervix
- cancer of the womb the most common symptom is abnormal bleeding, especially after the menopause
- polycystic ovary syndrome a common condition that affects how the ovaries work it causes irregular periods, and periods can be heavy when they start again
Other conditions that can cause heavy periods include:
Medical treatments that can sometimes cause heavy periods include:
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
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Reasons For Heavy Periods
Right below weve explained these top 9 common causes of heavy periods.
#1. Hormonal Imbalance
The two major hormones that take part in the regulation of the menstrual cycle are estrogen and progesterone.
They help prepare the womens body for a possible pregnancy by thickening the endometrium which lines the uterine.
On the off chance, the egg is not fertilized, the hormonal levels of these two hormones go down resulting in the shedding of the uterine lining causing menstruation.
Naturally, the abnormal changes in these hormonal levels can cause abnormal menstruation like heavy bleeding and cramps.
#2. Difficulties in Blood Clotting
Another prominent cause of heavy periods can be anomalies in clot formation.
If your body is not able to form clots, you might experience heavy bleeding.
Although seeing small occasional blood clots in your menstrual cycle is normal, if you start experiencing heavy periods with blood clots quite often, its time to ring up your doctor.
Fibroids are the non-cancerous growths developing in and around your womb that can causeheavy and even painful periods.
While there are many types of fibroids, submucosal fibroids are commonly known to cause heavy menstrual bleeding with clots and pain.
Why do fibroids cause heavy bleeding?
It is a medical condition where the tissue lining the womb is found outside the womb for instance, it is found in the ovaries.
#5. Pelvic Inflammatory Changes
What Are The Treatment Options For Heavy Periods
Your doctor should take your symptoms seriously, ask the right questions and use the best tests to find the cause of your heavy periods without undue delay. Treatment will depend on the cause – as mentioned above, often no cause is found. However, there are still treatments that can make periods lighter. Your doctor will explain the benefits and the possible side-effects.
You should be given information about the full range of treatments that could help and what they involve. Your doctor should also support you to choose one that is right for you. If you are still having problems, your doctor should refer you to a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge of diagnosing and treating heavy periods.
Treatment aims to reduce the amount of blood loss. The rest of this leaflet discusses treatment options for women who have regular but heavy periods with no clear cause . This is the majority of cases. If there is an underlying cause, such as a fibroid or endometriosis, treatment options may be different. See the relevant leaflets to read about treatment for these conditions.
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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.
Can Excessive Menstruation Be Treated
If your doctor finds stress or birth control pills as the cause of your excessive menstruation, you will be advised or other contraceptive methods used. Also, vaginal infections and other causes will require further testing. Vaginal infections gonorrhea and chlamydia, can be treated with antibiotics. If your bleeding is due to a polyp, a curettage or polyp forceps is used with good success rate.
Also, vaginal infections and other causes will require further testing. Vaginal infections gonorrhea and chlamydia, can be treated with antibiotics. If your bleeding is due to a polyp, a curettage or polyp forceps is used with good success rate.
Wondering why My period wont stop? Let us know.
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When Should I See A Doctor For Heavy Periods
Many women have come to accept heavy bleeding as a normal part of their cycle. This helps explain why over half of women with menorrhagia dont know they have it, or know that heavy periods are treatable. If left untreated, heavy periods can cause other health concerns like anemia, a red blood cell condition that makes it difficult for your organs to get the oxygen they need.
If your period affects your daily life by causing you to miss work or school, cancel social activities or plan your day around bathroom breaks, you might have menorrhagia. Heavy bleeding can cause other physical symptoms that can make you dread getting your period like extreme fatigue, very painful cramps, lightheadedness, anxiety and depression.
We recommend making an appointment with one of our womens health doctors if you experience any of the above symptoms. A doctor will be able to diagnose whats causing your heavy periods and recommend treatment options. If youre not sure whether your period is normal, just ask!
Our womens health doctors at HealthPartners and Park Nicollet are here to answer your questions. Well help you put an end to planning your life around heavy periods.