Heavy periods (Menorrhagia)
If you feel you are using more tampons or sanitary towels than usual, or blood is leaking through to your clothes and bedding, this means your period is heavy. Heavy periods can also mean you need to change a pad overnight, you’re passing clots larger than a 50 cent piece, or you bleed for more than 7-8 days.
You should see your doctor if heavy periods are disrupting your everyday life. Your doctor may want to investigate the possible causes of heavy bleeding, and treat it to prevent you becoming anaemic.
Symptoms of anaemia can include:
- shortness of breath
- palpitations (irregular heart beat).
Causes of menorrhagia include:
- Hormonal imbalance including thyroid hormone
- Uterine polyps
- Inherited blood disorders
What treatments are available for heavy periods?
Options for treatment depend on the cause and severity of menorrhagia, as well as your desire for future pregnancies. This may include:
- Medications e.g. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Hormonal therapy e.g. oral contraceptive pill, progesterone in the form of tablets or intrauterine device
- Hysteroscopy – where a tiny tube with a camera is passed into your womb to remove polyps or fibroids causing bleeding
- Endometrial ablation/resection – a procedure that removes or destroys the lining of your womb, reducing or stopping menstrual flow
- Hysterectomy – surgical removal of the uterus, with or without the tubes and cervix.
What is a fibroid?
Fibroids are benign muscle tumors of the uterus. Other than heavy periods, they can cause backache, pelvic pressure or pain, constipation, frequent urination and infertility.
How are fibroids diagnosed?
Through a gynaecological examination, pelvic ultrasound or other imaging, or during surgery.
Treatment of fibroids may include:
- Hormonal therapy
- Uterine artery embolization, where blood supply to the fibroid is blocked off causing it to shrink
- Surgical removal of fibroid
- Hysterectomy – this is only a suitable option for women who have completed their family.