Heavy Periods: Causes & Solutions
Heavy periods: Causes and Solutions
Heavy menstrual bleeding also called menorrhagia is a prolonged menstrual bleeding or excessive bleeding. If you have this problem, your menstrual flow will be so heavy that you will need to change your pad or tampon every hour for the whole day, and you’ll also have severe cramps, so severe that they’ll stop you from doing your normal daily activities
This condition affects about one in five women and it is more common with women in the ages of 30 to 50. How do you know if you have menorrhagia and not just normal bleeding? If you need to change your pad or tampon after every 2 hours or less and you pass clots the size of a quarter or larger, that is menorrhagia. If you have this type of condition, I suggest that you go and see your doctor right away.
The possible causes of menorrhagia fall into the following three areas:
- Uterine-related problems
- Cancer of the uterus or cervix
- Tumors or growths of the uterus that are not cancer; these can be called polyps or uterine fibroids
- Certain types of birth control such as an intrauterine device(IUD)
- Pregnancy-related problems such as ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage can cause abnormal bleeding.
- Hormone-related problems such as an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism): Every month, a lining piles up inside your uterus, which you shed during menstruation. If your hormone levels are not balanced, your body can make the lining too thick, which leads to heavy bleeding when you shed the thicker lining. Also, if you don’t ovulate, this can throw off the hormone balance in the body, leading to a thicker lining and a heavier period,
- Other illnesses or disorders: Bleeding related disorders, such as platelet function disorder or von Willebrand disease. Also, nonbleeding related disorders such as kidney, liver, thyroid disease, or pelvic inflammatory disease can cause menorrhagia. In addition, drugs such as aspirin can cause increased bleeding.
Some women may experience heavy menstruation all the time, from their very first menstrual flow. While others may start to experience heavy flow after having normal periods for years.
Women who have menorrhagia may have to:
- Change tampon or pads at least once an hour for an entire day or more
- Change tampon or pads all through the night
- Wear two pads at a time to help manage the heavy flow
They may also,
- Skip important activities because of painful cramps
- Experience periods that last more than a week
- Feel tired or short of breath
- Bleed between periods
- Bleed after menopause
- Pass enormous blood clots
Birth control options: Taking birth control pills can help balance your hormones, which can put an end to menorrhagia. Getting an IUD that emits hormone is another option that can help lighten your menstruation.
Certain drugs: Your doctor may prescribe medicines to decrease your heavy period flow. You may need to take the medication only when you’re on your period.
Surgery: If your doctor finds out that you have fibroids or polyps you can have them shrunk or removed. This may stop the heavy bleeding.
Removing the lining of your uterus: There’re many ways to do this, but the most common way is known as dilation and curettage, or D&C. in the case of D&C, it removes the outermost layer of the lining of your uterus. It can help stop the heavy flow, but in some cases, this procedure needs to be done more than once to achieve the intended result.
Endometrial ablation and endometrial resection are other procedures that can be used. These procedures permanently destroy or remove the lining of the uterus. Women will have lighter or no periods afterward.
Keep in mind that after endometrial ablation or resection, physicians advise females not to become pregnant. Birth control will still need to be used as these medicines are not a type of contraception.
Hysterectomy: In extremely rare cases, you may need this surgery which will remove your uterus. You won’t get your period anymore, but the down-side is, you won’t be able to get pregnant anymore.
Some natural home remedies that can help
There are simple home remedies you can engage in to help you get your period back on track;
Heavy bleeding can reduce your blood volume, drink 4 to 6 extra cups of water every day to help maintain your blood volume. Drink electrolyte solution like Gatorade or better still, add more salt to your diet to help balance out the extra fluid intake.
Eat vitamin C-rich foods
This vitamin helps your body absorb iron, which helps prevent anemia. You’ll find it in citrus fruits such as grapefruits and oranges.
Vitamin C is also in:
- red and green peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- tomato juice
Add more iron to your diet
You lose iron when you bleed. The body needs iron for hemoglobin production (hemoglobin is a molecule that helps red blood cells carry oxygen). Heavy periods can deplete your body of iron and can result to iron deficiency anemia.
Signs of anemia include:
- pale skin
To get more of this nutrient, eat foods high in iron like:
- lean beef
- chicken and turkey
Cook in a cast-iron pot
Cooking in a cast-iron skillet is another way to increase your iron intake. Stirring the pot often while cooking will put even more iron into your food. But be careful not to overdo things as cooking everything in an iron pot could increase your iron level excessively.
Every woman’s menstrual cycle is different. That’s why it’s difficult to know if your periods are normal or heavy. Your doctor can help with this diagnosis, and also help you in terms of the appropriate treatment needed. However, it’s important you’re honest with your doctors about your symptoms so they can help you look for treatments. There’s no reason to dread your period. They are great options out there to help you regulate and control it.