Menstrual meltdown


Cause of heavy periods often unknown.

Most women will experience a heavy menstrual period at least once. For some, heavy periods are even the norm. But what if you have a period that is heavier than what is usual for you? “Heavy menses can be normal, but if there is a change in heaviness get it evaluated,” said Carrie Terrell, MD, a University of Minnesota specialist in women’s health. “[You should seek medical attention] if you are soaking a pad or tampon within 1 to 2 hours for longer than one day, even if it is the first time it’s ever happened,” Terrell advised.

Excessive menstrual bleeding, or menorrhagia (pronounced men-o-RAGE-i-a), is defined as menstrual blood loss greater than 80 ml or lasting longer than seven days. As a rough guide, a regular tampon fully soaked will hold about 5 ml of blood. Most women experience heavy menstrual bleeding at some point, and 10 to 20 percent have symptoms severe enough to be diagnosed with menorrhagia. Menorrhagia is the leading cause of anemia in premenopausal women. Though women over the age of 30 are more likely to experience it, menorrhagia can occur at any age.

It is often difficult to determine the causes. The most common reasons include pregnancy complication, hormonal imbalances, blood clotting malfunction, endometrial irritation or abnormalities, uterine fibroids or polyps, ovarian dysfunction, and endometrial cancer. Treatment depends on the cause, and may include iron supplements (if the condition is accompanied by anemia); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen to help reduce menstrual blood loss; oral contraceptives; and progesterone. If an underlying condition is diagnosed, treating it may clear up menorrhagia. In some cases surgery may be advised. Many women have had hysterectomies; today, this most radical of surgical solutions is regarded as a last resort. Only about half of the women treated with hysterectomies have been found to have a related pelvic disease.