Are you tired of dealing with a heavy period every month? If you need to wear both a tampon and a thick pad for adequate protection during your period, you probably are suffering from menorrhagia, which is another way of saying heavy menstrual bleeding.
Causes of Excessive Menstrual Bleeding
Some people have been dealt a genetic roll of the dice that includes heavy periods. But there are also problems like hormonal imbalances, polyps and fibroids that can cause your period to flow heavily enough that it interferes with your day-to-day living.
While young women are the ones who often face longer-than-usual menstrual cycles, women who are approaching menopause or perimenopause are the ones struggling with heavy menstrual bleeding. When in doubt about what’s causing your heavy menstrual cycle, always get a doctor’s opinion. And if you’re wondering if your menstrual cup use is related to heavy menstrual bleeding, this article from our blog is from you.
At-home Treatment for Heavy Periods
Many of us prefer to try treatments at home before we resort to calling the doctor. A few things you can try at home for help with heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding are listed below.
1. Vitamin A supplements:
One study found that the majority of women who experience heavy period bleeding have low levels of vitamin A in their systems. Supplementing with this vitamin seems to significantly reduce the amount of heavy menstrual flow when 25,000IU is taken twice a day for a little over two weeks. Do not take high doses of vitamin A if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. If you don’t like to take supplements, you can also try eating vitamin A-rich foods, such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
2. Non-steroid anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS):
Over-the-counter medications like Advil and Aleve have been shown to decrease menstrual flow by 28 to 49 percent. If your periods are already very heavy, that may not be very much help, but it could be worth a try. They work by decreasing the level of prostaglandins circulating in your system, which improves vasoconstriction in the lining of the uterus, which then leads to reduced bleeding.
In order to see a benefit, you need to take a higher dose of your NSAID of choice than you usually would take for cramps only. If you take ibuprofen, you would need to take 800 mg three times per day. For Aleve-takers, start out with a 500mg dose and then take 200 to 250mg four times a day. With both drugs, start taking them at the first sign of your period and continue for as long as needed, but not exceeding five days.
Many of us feel that laying under a pile of blankets with a heating pad on our stomach is the best way to get through the worst days of our periods. However, that could just be making the whole experience a lot worse than it needs to be. According to an article on SparkPeople.com, regular exercise can help you achieve a lighter and shorter menstrual flow, fewer mood swings, and a stronger pelvic floor.” Speaking of a stronger pelvic floor, have you seen our Yoni Egg reviews?
You may be interested in: Home Care Tips for Painful Menstrual Cycles
4. Prescriptions for Excessive Menstrual Bleeding:
If you don’t see enough improvement from at home self-care, it’s a good idea to talk with a doctor about your heavy periods. Most doctors will run tests to determine the cause of your heavy menstrual bleeding before recommending a treatment. Tests may include blood tests for anemia and thyroid conditions, in addition to a pap exam and ultrasound.
The medical options available for excessive menstrual bleeding include:
This is a non-hormonal prescription drug that contains a substance called tranexamic acid. It works by slowing down the rate that your body breaks down blood clots. You take it when your period starts and should expect to see about 1/3 less menstrual flow while taking it.
6. Birth control pills:
Due to their effect on hormones, oral contraceptives, aka birth control pills, regulate your menstrual cycle and can reduce heavy period bleeding. Birth control pills tend to reduce excessive menstrual bleeding by 64 percent to 69 percent. You can find out more about birth control’s effect on the menstrual cycle in this post from our blog.
Mirena is a type of hormonal IUD that releases a progestin that reduces heavy menstrual flow and cramps. It works as birth control by thinning the lining of the uterus. That same effect is what leads to lighter periods. IUDs are T-shaped devices that are placed into your uterus by a gynecologist. These can produce a 70 percent to 95 percent reduction in menstrual blood flow.
Surgical Treatments for a Heavy Period
If your heavy menstrual cycle isn’t responding to medication or home treatments, there are surgical options that can help. Most of these are performed during an office visit and don’t require an overnight hospital stay, according to the Mayo Clinic.
1. D & C:
A dilation and curettage procedure is used to stop active or acute bleeding. During this procedure, the cervix is dilated, and tissue is removed from the uterine lining to stop heavy menstrual bleeding.
2. Uterine artery embolization:
If fibroids are to blame for your heavy periods, this procedure might be recommended for you. It shrinks fibroids that cause excessive menstrual bleeding by cutting off blood flow to uterine arteries.
3. Ultrasound ablation:
This treatment for heavy periods targets fibroids by using ultrasound waves to shrink the fibroid tissue. This process doesn’t require any incisions.
4. Endometrial ablation:
Endometrial ablation is a procedure that destroys the lining of the uterus permanently, which can be achieved in a number of ways. It doesn’t stop periods altogether, but it should provide significant relief for women suffering from heavy menstruation.
If a heavy menstrual flow is disrupting your everyday life, tell your doctor. She can find out what exactly is causing your problem and recommend the appropriate treatment options for your case.