Each month that a woman does not conceive a baby, her menstrual cycle will end with a period. The period, or menstrual blood flow, will occur when the uterine wall sheds the lining that builds each month in readiness for for possible conception. A normal blood flow can last three to five days and can be light, normal or heavy. However, a too heavy or excessive menstrual bleed can cause problems for a woman.
Excessive or heavy bleeding is also called hypermenorrhea and menorrhagia. According to lifesteps.com, heavy menstrual bleeding occurs in 9 to 14 percent of all women. In addition, menorrhagia commonly happens a couple years after a woman starts to menstruate and shortly before menopause. When a woman suffers from heavy menstrual bleeding, it is not a mere inconvenience, it stops her life. She usually can’t leave home for the first two days because of blood loss and fatigue.
A woman can suffer from 11 symptoms that occur during a heavy menstrual bleeding period. Symptoms can include bleeding that interferes with a woman’s daily activities, large clots in the blood, lower abdominal pain which is constant from the start of the period and anemia. Anemia results in shortness of breath, fatigue and feeling tired. Other symptoms are having to wear a sanitary pad and a tampon to control blood flow and having to change the tampon and sanitary pad every one to two hours or in the middle of the night. If a woman’s period lasts longer than seven days, if she loses more than four tablespoons to 1 cup of blood, or if she has irregular periods, she should contact her doctor.
Possible causes of heavy menstrual bleeding can include several factors, including noncancerous fibroid tumors, excess buildup of the lining of the uterus, thyroid and hormonal imbalance. Hormonal imbalances can occur at any age during a woman’s reproductive years and can result from the incorrect use of hormonal medications. There are three possible complications a woman can have which can prolong or cause heavy bleeding. For instance, severe cramps or pain during menstrual bleeding, or dysmenorrhea, can cause heavy bleeding. The inability to either give birth or to conceive and iron-deficiency anemia can also cause menstrual complications.
A doctor will diagnose menorrhagia after four or more tests. A woman can undergo a physical examination with a Pap test, a blood test and an iron test. Also, to help doctors diagnose menorrhagia, keep a journal of how many sanitary pads and tampons you used and how often you had to change them. Continued loss of blood because of heavy bleeding can cause anemia. Heavy menstrual bleeding can be very dangerous, so seek emergency medical attention if your flow continues beyond seven days or becomes extremely heavy.
The mirena, a hormonal intrauterine device, releases levonorgestrel, which is a type of progestin that decreases the thickening of the uterine wall, cramping and blood flow. Oral contraceptives can reduce excess bleeding in addition to regulating cycles. Iron supplements can improve low iron levels while nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help with blood loss. Oral progesterone reduces heavy bleeding and corrects hormonal imbalances. However, the progesterone must be taken 10 days of each menstrual cycle.