For most women, menstrual periods are a normal part of life. However, some people encounter a particularly heavy flow during their monthly cycle, leading to discomfort, inconvenience, and sometimes even disruption to their daily routine. Heavy periods, medically known as menorrhagia, can be caused by various factors and may have an underlying medical condition contributing to their severity.
People experiencing “heavy” periods may need to use double protection (ie, a tampon and a pad at the same time) or they may have to change their tampons or pads every 1-2 hours or get up at night to change. Some people describe passing clots which is also usually a sign of a heavy period. Besides a heavy flow, some women experience long periods. It is considered abnormal if a period lasts longer than seven days.
Hormonal imbalances are one of the primary culprits behind heavy menstrual bleeding. Fluctuations in the levels of estrogen and progesterone, the two main female reproductive hormones, can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle and result in excessive bleeding. Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid disorders can cause hormonal imbalances, leading to heavier periods. Hormones naturally change as we age as well, and sometimes can cause problems with the menstrual cycle.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. These benign tumors can vary in size and number and are a common cause of heavy menstrual bleeding. Fibroids can disrupt the normal functioning of the uterus, leading to increased blood flow during menstruation.
Adenomyosis occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus (endometrium) grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. This condition can cause the uterine wall to become thickened and enlarged, leading to heavy and prolonged periods. Adenomyosis can also result in severe menstrual cramps and discomfort. Women with endometriosis are more prone to adenomyosis.
Uterine polyps are small, benign growths that develop in the lining of the uterus. These tissue overgrowths can cause heavier and longer periods. They are also a primary culprit in bleeding after sex and bleeding in between normal periods. Although polyps are typically non-cancerous, they can lead to abnormal bleeding and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Certain blood disorders, such as von Willebrand disease and platelet function disorders, can interfere with the normal clotting process during menstruation. As a result, women with these conditions may experience heavier periods. It is important for individuals with a family history of blood disorders or unexplained heavy bleeding to consult with a hematologist.
Infections, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can cause heavy bleeding. Inflammation in the reproductive organs can lead to heavy menstrual bleeding, along with pelvic pain, fever, and discomfort.
Medications and IUDs
Certain medications and supplements, such as anticoagulants and supplements like Omega 3s, can affect blood clotting and contribute to heavier periods. Additionally, the use of copper IUDs may cause heavier or prolonged menstrual bleeding as a side effect.
Rarely, precancerous or cancerous changes in the cervix or uterus can cause bleeding. It is important to keep up on routine cervical cancer screening and report abnormal bleeding to your healthcare provider. After menopause, women should not experience bleeding and if they do, should report it to their provider right away so testing can be completed to make sure it’s not something dangerous.
Experiencing heavy periods can be disruptive and distressing for women, impacting their quality of life and overall well-being. While occasional changes in menstrual flow are normal, persistent heavy bleeding should not be ignored, as it may be indicative of an underlying medical condition. If you are experiencing excessively heavy periods or have concerns about your menstrual cycle, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional. They can assess your symptoms, conduct necessary tests, and provide appropriate treatment options to manage the condition effectively. Remember, knowledge and timely intervention are key to maintaining menstrual health and overall wellness.
Bosque Women’s Care’s providers are all highly trained experts in women’s hormones and periods. They can help discuss options for achieving your best health.
Call 505-847-4100 to schedule an appointment or visit the website www.bosquewomenscare.com for more information or to schedule online
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