Heavy menstrual periods are more than just a nuisance. Heavy bleeding can interfere with your daily activities and increase the risk for iron-deficiency anemia. Menorrhagia is the medical term for heavy menstrual bleeding, and it’s defined as regularly occurring, excessive uterine bleeding.
Thyroid disorders, hormonal imbalances and fibroids can cause heavy bleeding. Left untreated, heavy menses can prevent you from living your life to the fullest. Here’s what you should know if you think your periods are too heavy.
Find out if your flow is abnormal
It’s not always easy to know if your menstrual flow is abnormally heavy. What’s considered a normal menstrual flow is different for every woman. You may have been used to a lighter flow and find that your periods are heavier lately, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having abnormally heavy bleeding.
If it seems like your flow is unusually heavy every month, it’s time to get the opinion of an OB/GYN. The team at Rodeo Drive Women’s Health Center routinely diagnoses and treats heavy menstrual bleeding.
Here are some signs you may be experiencing heavy periods:
- Needing to change pads or tampons every 2-3 hours
- Bleeding that lasts more than seven days
- Needing to change pads or tampons during the night
- Inability to control blood flow with high-absorbency pads or tampons
- Passing large blood clots
Discuss treatment options
Receiving a menorrhagia diagnosis often provides relief to patients who have been dealing with the frustration of heavy bleeding. Now that you know it’s abnormal, you can talk to your OB/GYN about your options.
The recommended treatment depends on the cause of your heavy periods. If there’s an underlying condition, treating it may normalize your menstrual flow. In some cases, however, the cause is unknown.
Here are some treatment approaches that can help reduce menstrual flow:
- Oral contraceptives. Besides preventing pregnancy, birth control pills can help regulate your menstrual flow so that you have lighter periods.
- Hormonal intrauterine device. An IUD device is a small piece of plastic inserted into your uterus that releases the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. IUDs are very effective at reducing bleeding in women with heavy periods. However, Mirena® is the only IUD that’s FDA-approved for treating heavy bleeding. Most women using Mirena see an 80% reduction in bleeding within three months and a 90% reduction in six months.
- Surgical management. Various surgical procedures are available to reduce or stop your menstrual flow.
Switching to menstrual cups is an excellent solution for heavy periods. They hold three times more fluid than super-absorbency tampons and are comfortable and reusable.
While working out may not lighten your periods, exercise has a beneficial effect on your body and hormones. Getting plenty of physical activity can help you feel better while on your period and boost your energy levels.
Stress affects your period and can contribute to heavy menstrual bleeding. Take steps to ensure that you’re exercising some self care and reducing unnecessary sources of stress in your life. For example, research shows that practicing relaxing yoga improves mood, well-being, and general health in women with heavy periods and other menstrual disorders.
There’s no reason to put your lifestyle on hold because of heavy periods. For effective management, schedule an appointment with the team at Rodeo Drive Women’s Health Center by calling the office or booking online today.