Heavy periods, known medically as menorrhagia, are characterized by abnormally high blood flow during the menstrual cycle. A period may be considered heavy when more than 80 milliliters of blood flow during the cycle.
(However, it’s really difficult to measure the quantity of blood flow. GYN specialists typically rely on your descriptions to determine if you’re experiencing a heavy period)
Other characteristics of a heavy period include:
- Blood flow for 8-10 days, especially if it occurs month after month
- Sudden onset of a period, like turning on a faucet
- Heavy blood flow that interferes with a job or other daily activities
- Presence of larger clots for more than a day or two
The causes of heavy periods vary and can occur because of simple hormonal imbalances or because of a more serious medical condition. Young women may have a temporary hormonal imbalance for example but women nearing menopause (…age 45 onwards) are at an increased risk for heavy periods.
But conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and polyps lining the womb may also cause heavy periods.
Having a heavy period, especially consistently, can lead to many physical, social and even emotional problems.
Physically, you may have headaches, bad cramps and feel tired. Having a heavy period can also have effects on your social life – causing you to miss work, social events and even avoid sex. Also, a large majority of women who have heavy periods report feeling depressed, anxious and report having a lack of confidence.
Fortunately, there are treatments available to help you at least cope and even cure heavy periods.
Some involve oral medications (…either hormonal or non-hormonal), contraceptive coils and even surgery. If the heavy menstrual bleeding is in connection with a medical condition, treatment of that condition should help alleviate the heavy flow.
One treatment option for heavy periods that’s become quite popular is NovaSure endometrial ablation treatment. This simple, safe procedure removes lining in the uterus and dramatically reduces or even stops bleeding altogether.
The procedure is successful in around 90% of patients and takes only about 5 minutes to complete.
GYN specialists at Gainesville’s All About Women offer the entire spectrum of heavy period treatments – from NovaSure to surgical treatments like hysterectomy if necessary – to women across northern Florida.