Every woman’s menstrual cycle is different. A typical cycle arrives every 28 days, although it is still considered normal if it occurs between 24 to 34 days and is a moderate flow lasting about four days. A menstrual cycle with heavy bleeding will begin and remain heavy throughout its duration of up to 10 days. Heavy periods include blood clots, and the soaking through of a tampon or sanitary napkin every hour or two. There are courses of treatment to determine the cause of the heavy bleeding. One way to treat it is to use birth control.
Causes of Heavy Bleeding
Menorrhagia, or heavy bleeding, is experienced by more than 10 million women. A physician should be consulted to rule out the following conditions: endometrial polyps, endometrial hyperplasia, anovulation, endometrial cancer, uterine fibroids, abnormal thyroid or pituitary function, complications from a pregnancy, changes in hormones like menopause or perimenopause, recent surgery or other uterine procedures, trauma, pelvic inflammatory disease, infections, birth control methods such as IUD, birth control pills, estrogen supplements, prescription drugs such as steroids or blood thinner, stress, travel, illness, weight changes, exercise routines or change in diet.
A physician will ask many questions about general health, medical conditions, menstrual history and details of the last menstrual cycle. You'll have an examination and a Pap smear. Additional tests may be performed such as a pelvic ultrasound, an endometrial biopsy and lab tests. The lab tests include pregnancy tests, serum ferritin, CBC and thyroid function tests.
If the tests are inconclusive, the physician may suggest a dilation and curettage (D&C). During this procedure, the physician can observe with the help of a scope any abnormalities in the uterus. If the results from the scope come back negative, the next course of action is to determine whether there is a hormonal imbalance.
Birth Control Pills
Studies have shown that women utilizing birth control pills may reduce the blood flow by 55% to 65%. Birth control pills can reduce the severity of the symptoms a woman suffers through during her menstrual cycle.
There are some side effects that women experience from taking birth control pills. Some women find no relief from the heavy periods. Other women will experience weight gain, breast tenderness and mood swings. One pill, Lybrel, offers 365 days of active pills to allow women to skip their cycle entirely each month. There are risks or side effects including breakthrough bleeding and blood clots. The pill is not recommended for women who smoke, suffer from migraines, are over 35 years old or have increased heart disease risks.
Other Birth Control Methods
NovaSure is a procedure that will remove the lining of the uterus permanently. Lighter bleeding occurs right away and after seven years, studies shows 95% of women stopped having periods.
A progestin-secreting device is inserted into the uterus and in most cases thins the lining until there is nearly nothing left. Getting relief from heavy bleeding begins with speaking with your physician.