When it’s that time of the month, some women bleed for longer days, others bleed heavier; this situation is medically called Menorrhagia – heavy menstrual bleeding.
Menorrhagia, also called heavy menstrual bleeding is quite common among women. 1 out of 20 women bleed for up to or more than 7 days or more than 60 milliliters of blood during their menstrual period. It often gets in the way of their daily activities and can lead to anemia if not taken care of. Heavy menstrual bleeding can also cause fatigue and dizziness due to the quantity of blood that is exiting the body.
Its causes vary. It could be as a result of some pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a transition into menopause – perimenopause, pregnancy-related issues, and many other possible causes. However, it can be treated and managed. It is also possible to take care of yourself after you have been medicated.
In this article, we will discuss the causes of heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), the treatments that are available to address it, and self -care tips you can follow to keep your daily activities going despite your heavy menstrual bleeding.
What is Menorrhagia
Menorrhagia is a medical term used to describe the heavy menstrual bleeding experienced by some women during that time of their menstrual cycle. It entails the symptoms and causes of the heavy bleeding experienced by these set of women, either by bleeding for up to 7 days or more or by losing more than 60 milliliters of blood during menstruation.
Any woman who soaks her tampon or pad in less than 2 hours and has to change her pad during the night might be suffering from Menorrhagia. Also, if you feel weak and dizzy during your period and it is sometimes heavy or protracted, you may be suffering from menorrhagia.
Symptoms of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding (Menorrhagia)
The most obvious sign of menorrhagia is the soaking of pad or tampon in less than 2 hours and having your period for more than 7 days. However, there are other symptoms that point at the possibility of menorrhagia. It is important that these symptoms or some of them must have been experienced consistently during periods before menorrhagia can be suspected.
- Constant pain in the lower abdomen
- Menstrual periods that lasts for 7 days or more
- Soaking tampons or pads every hour for several hours
- Weakness and dizziness
- Disruption of normal activities due to bleeding
- Using double pads
- Shortness of breath
Causes of Menorrhagia
Heavy menstrual bleeding can be caused by many things. Although in some cases, the cause is unknown. Here are some common causes of menorrhagia.
Uterine Fibroids or Polyps
The uterus is home to the lining that breaks down when no implantation of fertilized egg has occurred. Fibroid is a benign tumor that occurs in and around the uterus during a woman’s child-bearing years. It can cause heavy bleeding during menstruation.
Also, polyps are small benign tumors that grow on the uterine linings. They may also cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
The hormones estrogen and progesterone are responsible for the creation of the endometrium. An imbalance in these hormones might cause the endometrium – made for the purpose of fertilized eggs implantation – might be too thick. When this breaks down, its removal might last for more than 7 days or the bleeding is heavier than normal.
One of the reasons this can arise is due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
The thyroid is the gland that produces the hormone thyroxine. Its importance in the human body, despite its size is immense. The thyroid hormone is responsible for triggering the luteal cells to produce the hormone progesterone, which is important in the formation of the endometrium.
A problem with the thyroid, making it produce inadequate hormone consequently means less progesterone is produced by the luteal cells. This causes hormonal imbalance, a cause for menorrhagia.
Some inherited bleeding disorders such as von Willebrand disease – a disease in which blood clotting is deficient due to the insufficiency of a certain protein that helps in blood clotting – may have heavy menstrual bleeding.
This is a condition that occurs when the uterine lining – the endometrium – collapses into the uterine muscular walls – the myometrium. This causes abdominal pain and cramps, and also causes heavy bleeding.
Pregnancy conditions such as ectopic pregnancy and spontaneous abortion, otherwise called miscarriage, can lead to menorrhagia.
Perimenopause is the period, a few years, that precedes the beginning of menopause. During this period, the ovary is close to the end of its active functioning and therefore, many reproductive anomalies are common. One of such is heavy menstrual bleeding.
Hormonal medications – estrogen and progestin, anti-inflammatory medicatons such as aspirin and anti-coagulants such as Lovenox and Jantoven can be contributors to menorrhagia.
Some medications used to control birth and devices such as IUDs can also contribute to heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Other medical conditions such as liver or kidney disease might be responsible for menorrhagia.
Treatment of Menorrhagia (Heavy Menstrual Bleeding)
The treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding is dependent on the seriousness of the bleeding. How much the condition as deviated from normal, influenced by age, health status, cause of the condition, and medical history as will be found out during diagnosis, will affect the treatment an individual suffering from menorrhagia will get.
Also, your choice as to how much you want the bleeding to reduce or pregnancy chances will affect the treatment you get.
However, the different treatment options include:
Hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus. This treatment is usually a last resort and is done when the affected individual has no desire to continue having period or pregnancy.
Operational hysterectomy is also an option where fibroids and polyps – some of the causes of menorrhagia – are removed from the uterine lining.
Endometrial ablation or resection
This treatment options involves the surgical breakdown of the uterine lining. Although it is surgical, it does not involve cuts. It can be done in your doctor’s office or in the operating room.
The endometrium gets broken down by employing extreme cold, high-energy radio frequency, or heated fluids.
One of the causes of heavy menstrual bleeding is hormonal imbalance. Hormone therapy will help restore the balance in the defaulting hormones – estrogen and progesterone in this case. It usually involves the use of medications to get the hormones produced in the right proportion.
Medication such as anti-fibrinolytics that help in reducing bleeding helps in the treatment of menorrhagia. Birth control pills are also used in the treatment of this condition.
Self-Care Tips for Menorrhagia
Although the severity of heavy menstrual bleeding varies in individuals, it is important that you consult your doctor for the appropriate treatment. However, when your treatment is done, there are things you can and should do for yourself.
- Stay back home if you feel weak or dizzy.
- Use Iron supplements regularly.
- Carry extra tampons and pads with you when you go out.
- Wear dark skirts or pants when you go out.
- Also, while in bed, use water proof sheets to avoid staining your mattress.
Heavy menstrual bleeding, Menorrhagia is a common condition among women. It causes dizziness and faintness in most people and is mostly described as the condition that makes a woman soak a pad or tampon in less than two hours or bleed for more than 7 days.
Its cause can be traced to many things, some of which are hormonal imbalance, pregnancy complication, liver or kidney disease, thyroid problem, and many more.
It can be treated and the treatment option depend on the recipient’s age, desire to have more children or a lack thereof, medical history, and health status.
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Ayomide, is a Health professional, who has worked in most healthcare unit and has a background in Nursing.