Heavy periods, or menorrhagia, is the term used to define menstrual periods when bleeding is abnormally heavy or extended for an atypical amount of time.Medically, menstrual periods are considered heavy if they prevent a woman from doing her daily activities.
Heavy bleeding can be caused by a hormonal imbalance of estrogen or progesterone. These are the hormones that regulate the buildup of the uterine lining that is shed during a woman’s menstrual cycle. If there is more lining to be shed, a woman will bleed more while shedding this lining. Heavy bleeding can also be caused by fibroids
, a complication of pregnancy, certain medications or cancer
Bleeding is considered heavy if:
A woman soaks through one or more sanitary product during an hour
A woman bleeds for more than seven consecutive days
A woman passes large blood clots during her menstrual flow
A woman cannot go about her daily routine during her menstrual cycle
A woman experiencing any of these symptoms or heavy bleeding after going through menopause should schedule an appointment with a physician.
Diagnosis and Screening
Physicians will only diagnose heavy periods after asking a series of questions about medical history and previous menstrual periods. A physician may recommend a blood test, a pap test
, an endometrial biopsy, a hysteroscopy
or a gynecologic ultrasound
in order to diagnose heavy periods. Physicians must go through a process of elimination to rule out more serious medical conditions before diagnosing a woman with menorrhagia.
Treating heavy periods typically involves medication. These include iron supplements to prevent anemia, oral contraceptives
to regulate the menstrual cycle or oral progesterone, which is the hormone that can become unbalanced and cause heavy bleeding.
The Longstreet Clinic’s Center for Women’s Health understands that caring for a woman’s health requires more than just good “medical” care. Call (770) 297-2200 or contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced physicians to help you with your health needs.