Heavy Periods

Heavy menstrual bleeding is known as menorrhagia and a very common blood disorder amongst women. One of the biggest risks of menorrhagia is that it can lead to anemia (blood deficiency), causing weakness, fatigue and in severe cases, neurological dysfunctions. A blood loss of greater than 80 mL (a normal flow being between 25-80ml) or a menstrual cycle lasting longer than 7 days constitutes menorrhagia (also called hypermenorrhea). Menorrhagia can greatly hinder a woman’s ability to perform daily tasks. Symptoms include:

  • Soaking through more than one sanitary pads or tampons each hour for several sequential hours
  • Waking up to change tampon or pad at night
  • Menstrual bleeding lasting longer than a week
  • Passing blood clots
  • Daily activities being hindered due to excessive menstrual bleeding
  • Potential symptoms of anemia
    • Tiredness
    • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

More serious cases occur when there is:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding that needs to be changed every hour for an extended period of time
  • Irregular bleeding between periods
  • Any form of vaginal bleeding post menopause

In some women there are some clear causes of menorrhagia, including:

  • Hormonal imbalance → the balance between estrogen and progesterone regulates the buildup of lining of the uterus, known as endometrium, which is shed during menstruation. Hormonal imbalances can lead to excess growth of the endometrium
  • Dysfunction of the ovaries → when the ovaries do not release an egg during the menstrual cycle (anovulation) the body will not produce progesterone
  • Uterine fibroids → benign tumors of the uterus most often appear during childbearing years
  • Polyps → benign growths on the lining of the uterus
  • Adenomyosis → glands from the endometrium become embedded in uterine muscle tissue
  • Intrauterine device (IUD) → a common side effect
  • Pregnancy → miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy
  • Inherited clotting disorders → von Willebrand’s disease
  • Medications → anti-inflammatory drugs, anticoagulants
  • Medical conditions → pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), thyroid problems, endometriosis, liver or kidney disease

Menorrhagia has many risk factors as well. These are:

  • Adolescent girls who have recently started menstruating – beginning of menses, menarche
  • Women approaching menopause – ages 40 to 50 have a higher chance of an anovulatory cycles

Often women undergo the following Western medical procedures to identify the cause of their excessive bleeding:

  • Blood work – a complete blood count (CBC) to rule out anemia or thyroid conditions
  • Pap test – cells from cervix are collected to be tested for infection, inflammation or changes that can lead to cancer
  • Endometrial biopsy – sample of the uterus
  • Ultrasound – imaging
  • Sonohysterogram – fluid is injected through a tube into your uterus by way of your vagina and cervix
  • Hysteroscopy – inserting a tiny camera through your vagina and cervix into your uterus

Most often, hormonal supplementation is prescribed in the treatment of menorrhagia. However, these can have serious side effects and many women simply do not want to ingest hormones. If you suffer from heavy periods, please call our clinic so that we may schedule an appointment for you. There are many natural methods, such as herbal treatment, dietary changes and acupuncture, that can treat menorrhagia without surgery or pharmaceuticals.