Menorrhagia is the medical term for menstrual periods that are unusually heavy or long. Many women experience heavy flow days, but unusually heavy periods are something to pay attention to.
With unusually heavy periods, the flow is so heavy that it’s more than a minor nuisance. It can cause you to miss work days or school and cancel social engagements. You may feel trapped for fear of soaking through a tampon or pad too quickly and find yourself reliant on going to the restroom every hour.
If unusually heavy periods are preventing you from doing your normal activities, it’s time to speak with a health professional. OB/GYN Kiran Patel, MD, and women’s health specialist Leela Patel, MD, are board-certified physicians serving the South Charleston, West Virginia community.
We diagnose issues such as heavy periods, and can provide options to manage your flow, as well as rule out underlying gynecological conditions like fibroids. Read on to learn how to tell if your periods are normal and what you can do about it.
What is a normal flow?
Menstrual flow varies widely from woman to woman, and what’s normal for one woman may be out of the ordinary for another. However, there is such a thing as an abnormally heavy flow. Even on the wide spectrum of flow, it is possible to have a flow that’s too heavy.
Your flow is abnormally heavy if you’re bleeding longer than a week, needing to change tampons or pads overnight, soaking through one or more pads or tampons every 1-2 hours, or having to restrict your daily activities.
In addition to the impact on your quality of life during your period, an abnormally heavy flow can cause iron deficiency because you lose more iron than you take in. It can also cause infertility. That’s why it’s important to discuss it with a health professional if you notice that you’re consistently having an abnormally heavy flow.
What causes heavy periods?
Sometimes heavy periods have no readily identifiable cause. In other circumstances, an underlying issue is the cause. The following are common causes of heavy periods.
Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a top cause of abnormally heavy periods. It occurs when the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside of the womb in the pelvic area, ovaries, and other places.
Uterine fibroids: Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in the uterus. They’re linked to heavy periods, and other issues, such as pelvic pain.
Hypothyroidism: Your thyroid regulates many functions, including coagulation factors. When your thyroid produces too little hormone, a change in clotting factors may occur that causes heavy menses. Even subclinical cases of hypothyroidism can cause abnormally heavy periods.
Low iron: Heavy periods can lead to excess iron loss, and low iron can contribute to heavy menses.
If there’s an underlying issue causing your heavy periods, treating the underlying problem can improve your symptoms of unusually heavy bleeding .
Help for heavy periods
You aren’t doomed to put up with abnormally heavy periods. There are treatments that can lighten, and in some cases stop your flow. If an underlying cause is found, treatment is aimed at the underlying cause. Birth control can significantly lighten your flow. Additionally, a non-hormonal medication called Lysteda® improves symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding.
If you’re struggling with heavy periods, schedule a visit with one of our providers to discuss treatment options. To get started give us a call. We offer in-person and telehealth visits. Break free of unusually heavy periods and get back to doing the things you enjoy.