It may be embarrassing to discuss your menstrual cycle, especially if it’s heavy or irregular. However, you should always share any issue of concern with your Ob/Gyn. Often, a heavy period is a nuisance that interferes with your daily life and full schedule. At other times, it can indicate a serious health issue such as cancer.
Heavy periods, also called menorrhagia, are common, affecting more than 10 million American women each year. This means that about one out of every five women experiences this issue. Fortunately, there are ways to diagnose the cause of your heavy period and treat it. At Women's Health Services, we’re here to help you figure out if anything is seriously wrong.
What is considered a heavy period?
Everyone’s menstrual cycle is different. Even your own menstrual cycle may vary from month to month. Most women get their period every 21 to 35 days, and it lasts from four to five days. You may have menorrhagia if you experience:
- A period lasting longer than seven days
- Your menstrual flow is so heavy, you need to change your sanitary pad or tampon every hour for several consecutive hours
- You need to change your sanitary pad or tampon during the night
- You notice blood clots as large as or larger than a quarter in your menstrual flow
- Your menstrual flow is so heavy it interferes with your life
- Pain in your lower abdomen during your period
- Tiredness, fatigue, or shortness of breath
What causes heavy periods?
Often, the cause of a heavy period is unknown. However, even without a known cause, treatment options are available to minimize the inconvenience of a heavy period.
Other common causes of heavy periods include:
- Hormone imbalance
- Uterine fibroids
- Intrauterine device (IUD)
One of the reasons you shouldn’t ignore a heavy period is that it may be a sign that you have uterine or cervical cancer. It’s important to see your Ob/Gyn for a proper diagnosis.
Treatment options for heavy periods
At Women's Health Services, one of our expert providers will provide an evaluation to help find the cause of your heavy period and the best treatment plan for your condition. Treatment recommendations will depend on the results of your assessment and your lifestyle. Some of these options include:
- Folic acid to ward off anemia
- Advil or Motrin
- Birth control pills
- Hormone therapy
- Medications to treat a bleeding disorder, if diagnosed
If noninvasive treatments fail to remedy your situation, surgery is an option. A dilation and curettage (D&C) is a procedure that opens your cervix to scrape or suction tissue from the lining of your uterus to reduce menstrual bleeding.
Another option to eliminate heavy periods is a hysterectomy, in which your uterus and cervix are surgically removed. This procedure is not an option for women who plan to have children. Endometrial ablation uses a laser to seal your uterus, which prevents heavy bleeding, but it is also not recommended if you plan to have children.
If your menstrual cycle is heavy or prolonged, call Women's Health Services, in Arlington, Texas for an appointment with our experienced providers. You can also book an appointment online through our website.