What To Do About Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Heavy menstrual bleeding is more common than you might think. It is estimated that about 1 in 20 women consult their gynecologist about it every year. No matter how common it is, however, it can really disrupt a woman’s life and could potentially be an indication of a bigger health problem. If you are worried that your bleeding is too heavy, you should consult your gynecologist. Read on for some of the most frequently asked questions regarding heavy menstrual bleeding.
What is considered “heavy” menstrual bleeding?Menstrual bleeding is considered to be “heavy” if it meets any of the following criteria:
- Bleeding that leaks through one or more tampons or pads every hour for several hours in a row.
- Bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days in a menstrual period.
- Bleeding that requires you to wear more than one pad at a time.
- Bleeding that requires you to change pads or tampons during the night.
- Bleeding with blood clots that are the size of a quarter or larger.
What can heavy menstrual bleeding indicate about my health?Heavy menstrual bleeding could potentially be a sign of an underlying health problem that may require treatment. Blood loss due to heavy periods can lead to a condition called iron-deficiency anemia which can cause shortness of breath and increase the risk of heart problems.
What causes heavy menstrual bleeding?There are many possible causes for heavy menstrual bleeding which may include:
- Medications like blood thinners, aspirin, and copper intrauterine devices (IUDs), especially during the first year of regular use.
- Bleeding disorders where your blood may not clot properly.
- Growths like Fibroids or polyps.
- Cancer, specifically an early sign of endometrial cancer most often diagnosed in women in their mid-60s who are past menopause.
- Irregular ovulation, which may cause the lining of the uterus to become thick and result in heavy menstrual bleeding.
How will my doctor evaluate my heavy menstrual bleeding?When you have an appointment with your OBGYN regarding heavy menstrual bleeding, he/she may ask you questions about the following:
- Your birth control method of choice.
- Your menstrual period including the date they started, how long the bleeding lasted, and the amount of flow.
- Your pregnancy history.
- Your past and present medical history and surgical procedures.
- What medications you may buy over the counter.