How Can I Stop Heavy Periods
Knowing the underlying reason for your heavy periods is key to getting the treatment that will be most effective for you, which is why talking to a doctor is so important. In some cases, heavy periods caused by fibroids, growths or endometriosis are best treated through surgery. But most often, menorrhagia treatment is a matter of lifestyle changes and medication, such as:
What Are Heavy Menstrual Periods
With heavy menstrual periods , your bleeding may be heavier or last longer than normal. You may:
- Pass large blood clots and soak through your pads or tampons often.
- Bleed for more than 7 days.
- Have menstrual cramps.
Heavy periods may disrupt your life. But in most cases, they aren’t a sign of a serious problem.
Still, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. A doctor can suggest treatments to ease your symptoms and make sure that you don’t have a serious condition.
Changes To Your Birth Control
I have written about methods of contraception in previous blogs but here I focus on how changing birth control methods can affect the amount you bleed.
Contraceptive patch and the pill
These contraceptives usually result in a lighter flow so if youve recently stopped using either of them you may experience a heavier period.
The non-hormonal coil
This common contraceptive is non-hormonal and commonly referred to as the ‘copper coil.’ It is inserted in the uterus by a doctor or nurse to stop you getting pregnant. Although it is very effective and can last for years, it comes with the unfortunate side effect of heavier and more painful periods.
Nevertheless, this is only temporary problem and things should settle down after a few period cycles. After all, the body needs time to adjust to the new hormone balance that contraceptives bring.
There is an alternative, hormonal coil known as the Mirena coil which can offer some hormonal support, and in some cases, make periods much lighter, shorter, or can even cause them to disappear completely.
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What Tests Might Be Needed For Heavy Periods
Your doctor might do or advise one or more of the following tests:
- An examination to see whether the bleeding is coming from your cervix, not your uterus. This is done in a similar way as a cervical smear or HPV screening test.
- Blood tests to look for anaemia, iron levels, thyroid disease or a bleeding disorder.
- An ultrasound of your uterus and ovaries to detect abnormalities in your uterus, such as polyps or fibroids.
- A cervical smear in which a sample of cells is collected from your cervix and then looked at to see if you have an infection, inflammation or changes in the cells that might be or cause cancer.
- A sample of the lining of the uterus to see whether there are any precancerous or cancerous changes.
Cancer Of The Endometrium
Cancer that affects the endometrium of the uterus can cause bleeding in women especially after 40 years. However, younger women may have prolonged heavy period, abdominal pain and vaginal pain during intercourse.
If your doctor suspects cancer as the cause of your long heavy periods, removal of the uterus or hysterectomy will be performed. Removal of the uterus with radio or chemotherapy can achieve cure if done early.
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Causes Of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
While in many cases it is not possible to determine the exact cause, there are a number of reasons a woman may experience abnormal uterine bleeding. Some of the known causes of abnormal uterine bleeding include:
- spontaneous miscarriage in pregnancy
- ectopic pregnancy lodgement of the fertilised egg in the slender fallopian tube instead of the uterine lining
- hormonal disorders conditions such as hypothyroidism , polycystic ovarian syndrome and hyperprolactinemia can disrupt the menstrual cycle
- ovulatory dysfunction this is when the ovary does not release an egg each month. Most commonly, this occurs at either end of a womans reproductive years, either during puberty or at menopause
- endometriosis the cells lining the uterus can travel to, attach and grow elsewhere in the body, most commonly within the peritoneal cavity
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
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
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A Period Thats Heavy On The First Day
Many women experience heavier bleeding on the first day of a period and lighter bleeding on the last days. A heavy flow that might get in the way of your normal activities is unusual.
Birth control changes
If you recently stopped using hormonal birth control, your periods may be very heavy in the first days as your cycle adjusts to the hormone changes.
Like birth control, medications you take may interfere with your cycle and lead to heavy bleeding on the first day of your period.
Use Of Intrauterine Devices
If you experience prolonged periods after inserting an IUD, which is a contraceptive to prevent pregnancy, then it may be the cause. Should I worry about it? Not yet. Prolonged periods after IUDs are common in the first few months of inserting it. If it gets persistent with really heavy bleeding, then you should let your doctor know.
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You Have An Overactive Thyroid
An overactive thyroidalso known as hyperthyroidismbegins producing too many thyroid hormones, which can cause serious issues for your heart, blood pressure, muscles, and more. Abnormally light periods and missing periods are also a symptom of hyperthyroidism. If youre experiencing some of the other symptoms of an overactive thyroid, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Miscarriage Or Abnormal Pregnancy
In the first trimester, signs of a miscarriage can mimic a menstrual period, because there will be bleeding and clotting, says Dr. Ross. For some women, they may not have even known they were pregnant. According to Penn States Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, as many as 30% of women will experience this at least once, and causes can include chromosomal abnormalities, autoimmune disease, infections, and structural issues with the uterus, among other factors.
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When Should You See A Doctor About Your Heavy Period
Again, whats considered heavy varies by person, according to Lucille Russo, M.D., an OB/GYN at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Illinois. For example, if youve had heavy periods all your life and been checked about it, that would be far less of a concern than if your periods suddenly became much heavier than usual.
1 out of 5 women deals with heavy periods, per the CDC.
Typically, I tell patients if they are soaking through a maxi pad or super tampon every hour for a few hours, they should call, says Dr. Russo. Also, if their periods are heavy and long, like lasting more than 10 days, or they are persistently bleeding between periods, they should contact their doctor.
Two other signs to make the call include seeing multiple clots that are bigger than 1-inch wide, and needing to us both pads and tampons at the same time, she adds.
Even if you dont have any of the underlying issues mentioned here, its worth speaking with your doctor about potential treatments, Dr. Russo says, because persistently heavy periods can often cause anemia, a condition where there arent enough healthy red blood cells to carry needed oxygen to your bodys tissues. That can lead to fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat with exercise.
Bottom line: In general, its likely you know when something seems wrong down thereget it checked to be safe.
How Can I Stop A Heavy Period
A heavy period will stop on its own, as normal, after 3-7 days. If youre still bleeding after 10 days, talk to your doctor. Some natural remedies to try are:
- Eat vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, as they help your blood clot
- Eat more iron or take an iron supplement
- Take ibuprofen or paracetamol for pain relief, instead of aspirin if you normally grab an aspirin when the cramps set in, think again. Aspirin is a blood thinner and may make you bleed more
If youre struggling with your heavy periods, talk to your gynecologist or doctor, as there are several things they can do to help:
- You may be able to get an IUS . This small, plastic device is inserted into your womb, where it slowly releases progestogen to help regulate your periods.
- Your doctor may prescribe you tranexamic acid tablets if an IUS is not suitable. These tablets help the blood in your womb to clot and will not affect your chances of getting pregnant if you choose to do so.
- The combined oral contraceptive pill may also be a viable option, although many young women have reported adverse effects on their mental health.
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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.
How Long Is Too Long
Your menses should last between three and seven days, and the average is five, board-certified ob-gyn Dr. Pari Ghodsi tells HelloGiggles. Most people menstruate around the same amount of days each month, but even if there is variation, as long as it isnt more than seven days, it is not abnormal.
Dr. Jennifer Conti, another board-certified ob-gyn and co-host of The V Word podcast, says its not a big deal if your period varies by a few days every once in a while, but if its becoming a frequent occurrence, its worth a pause. A long period is one that lasts beyond eight days, she explains. If youre routinely having periods that last eight days or longer, definitely see a provider to make sure youre not losing too much blood. That can potentially lead to anemiaa condition where you dont have enough healthy blood cells bringing oxygen around the body, which can leave you feeling exhausted and weak, among other things.
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Uterine Polyps Or Fibroids
Uterine polyps happen when endometrial tissue grows on the lining of the uterus. Fibroids, similarly, are growths of fibrous tissue and muscle in the wall of the uterus.
Both fibroids and polyps can cause periods to be heavy, full of clots, and last longer than a week.
These tend to occur in people around 35 to 50 years old, or who are in perimenopause.
Other symptoms of fibroids include:
- pelvic pressure
If you think you might have endometriosis, set up an appointment with your doctor for further evaluation.
How Are They Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask about your menstrual periods and do a pelvic exam. During the exam, your doctor will check for signs of disease, infection, and abnormal growths.
If needed, your doctor may also do one or more tests to find out what’s causing heavy periods. These tests may include:
- A fluid sample from your cervix or vagina. This can look for signs of infection.
- A Pap or HPV test. This screens for cervical cancer.
- Blood tests. These can check for anemia, a bleeding disorder, or other problems.
- A pelvic ultrasound. This test can look for any problems in the pelvic area.
- An endometrial biopsy. It can check for abnormal cell changes in the lining of the uterus .
- A hysteroscopy. This can check the lining of your uterus to look for the cause of bleeding, such as fibroids.
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Youre Using Hormonal Birth Control
One of the most common reasons for a lighter period is going on hormonal birth control some doctors even prescribe it to women with very heavy periods for that exact reason. So if youve recently started the pill, are using the patch or the ring, or gotten a hormonal IUD, and your periods have lightened up, its normal to have light cycles, to completely skip cycles, or have small amounts of dark or light blood.
Is Heavy Menstrual Bleeding Serious
Heavy menstrual bleeding can be serious if you lose so much blood that you show signs of anemia. Anemia is a condition arising from having too little iron in your body. Anemia can be life-threatening without treatment.
Also, some of the conditions that can cause heavy period bleeding, like cancer, require early medical intervention. Speak with your healthcare provider to discuss any risks related to your period bleeding.
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Why Is My Period So Heavy
The world of menstruation can be confusing, frustrating, and strange at times, and its natural to question what is going on. Every person experiences menstruation differently, so it can be difficult to identify a normal period flow, length and associated discomfort or pain.While we know that our menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days and is typically heaviest on the first day, there are certain things that we may need to keep an eye out for. Menorrhagia or abnormally heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding is not entirely uncommon. Here, well unpack what a heavy period looks like, what to look for and when to consult your doctor.
Signs And Symptoms Of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding may include:
- Soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours
- Needing to wake up to change sanitary protection during the night
- Needing to use double sanitary protection to control the menstrual flow
- Menstrual bleeding that lasts longer than a week
- Symptoms of anemia, like fatigue, light-headedness and shortness of breath
- Passing blood clots larger than a quarter
- Restricting activities because of heavy menstrual flow
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When To See A Doctor
If your period lasts longer than a week, consider calling a doctor for advice. Depending on your symptoms, they may suggest setting up an in-person appointment for a physical exam.
On the other hand, if you think youre showing symptoms of a rare cause or if youre pregnant, see a doctor immediately.
If you experience severe heavy bleeding and youre soaking through four or more pads and tampons in a 2-hour period, go to an emergency room right away.
You Have Pelvis Inflammatory Disease
This is a nasty one, unfortunately. Pelvic inflammatory disease occurs when there’s a bacterial infection in either the womb or the fallopian tubes, and an abnormally heavy period is one of the signs. But it won’t occur on its own, so this isn’t the right explanation for a heavy period with no other symptoms. Other signs of PID include painful sex and/or urination, an ache in the lower abdomen, a fever, nausea and strange green vaginal discharge â though it’s the sort of infection where symptoms can appear in various arrangements, not in one normal set.
Unfortunately, up to 90 percent of cases of PID are caused by the sexually transmitted infections chlamydia and gonorrhea, and it can cause serious problems for fertility, so if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms get thee to a doctor immediately.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Signs of heavy menstrual bleeding include:
- Abdominal pain.
- Periods lasting longer than seven days.
- Passing blood clots that are the size of a quarter or bigger. The blood may appear red, pink, brown, or even rust-like.
- Bleeding through 1 or more tampons or pads each hour for more than two consecutive hours.
- Losing more than 80 milliliters of blood during your period instead of what is typical, 35-40 milliliters.
- Anemia symptoms, like feeling exhausted, tired or short of breath.
With anemia, you may also notice signs of a condition called pica. Pica symptoms include hair loss, pale skin, and the urge to eat non-food items . See your provider if have these symptoms.