Heavy periods

Heavy periods occur commonly in women and there is sometimes no underlying cause for this. It is not always easy to quantify the amount of blood a woman loses during menstruation but most women have an idea what is normal for them and can tell if there has been a change in their menstrual flow.

If you have to change your sanitary pads every 1 to 2 hours or if you are passing clotted blood, this might be an indication that you are suffering from heavy menstrual bleeds.

What are the causes heavy periods?

In very many women, there is no identifiable cause for their heavy periods, however in other women, heavy periods could be the sign of some conditions or the result of the use of certain medication.

Some of the conditions are discussed below:

  1. Fibroids: These are growths around the wall of the womb. They vary in size and location within the womb.
  2. Vaginal infections: Although would likely cause vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse or during urination, it can also result in heavy menstrual bleeding.
  3. Underactive thyroid: The thyroid gland is a gland which produces a hormone called thyroxine. When the thyroid gland is underactive, it can result in heavy menstrual bleeds.
  4. Medications: Some medication can cause heavy menstrual bleeds. For example, medications used to thin the blood.

What should I do if I experience heavy menstrual bleeds?

Sometimes women who have heavy menstrual bleeds can lose so much blood each cycle and this can make them anaemic (low level of blood cells). If your menses lasts more than 8 days or if you have to change your pads every 1 to 2 hours, then you need to see your doctor so that you can be assessed further. Your doctor would ask you questions so as to ascertain the cause of your heavy periods. They may also need to examine you and request blood tests and ultrasound scan.

What is the treatment if heavy periods?

The treatment for this condition will be dependent on the particular cause. Where there is no specific cause, the following could be helpful in reducing menstrual blood loss:

  1. Intrauterine System (coil): This is normally used as a means of contraception (preventing pregnancy) but can also help in reducing menstrual blood loss. If you require contraception, this will be the ideal treatment for you.
  1. Contraceptive tablets: Tablets used for preventing pregnancy (contraceptives) can also be used.
  1. Medicines that reduce menstrual blood loss: An example of these include Tranexamic acid.

In individuals whose causes of heavy bleeding is uterine fibroids-the options available can be medication or surgery to shrink the fibroids. In women who have completed their childbearing, it is a possibility to also remove the womb by surgery.

What are the complications of heavy menstrual bleeding?

A direct complication of heavy menstrual bleeding is anaemia (low blood count) which can result in symptoms such as dizziness, difficulty in breathing, generalized fatigue. If it carries on for a long time, it can affect the heart.