You know your body better than anyone else, right? So, when it comes to your period, you basically know what to expect each month. Some women aren’t so lucky. Many women experience heavy and abnormal menstruation every month. A lot of the time, this abnormal bleeding is disruptive and can actually make a woman sick.
There is no such thing as a regular “flow,” but for most of us, we can gauge about how long we’re going to be on, and what is customary for our own bodies. If you’re a woman dealing with a period that flows like a river or are someone who is suddenly experiencing an abnormality – read on to find out what it is and what you can do about it.
Menorrhagia: What is It?
The actual medical term for heavy bleeding is, you guessed it, menorrhagia. Most women do not actually bleed heavy enough to be diagnosed with this condition. Still, if you are one of the unlucky, it can be bad. Like, really bad.
Bleeding that lasts for more than the regular seven days is classified as menorrhagia. A “regular” period is said to be between 30ml to 60ml of blood, if your bleeding goes above and beyond this, say 80ml, it can also be diagnosed as heavy bleeding. How can you really tell, though? Below is a bulleted list of how you can know if it’s just too much.
How much is too Much?
The measurements, as mentioned above, for how much bleeding is just too much can be hard to tell. How many of us women can actually tell how many milliliters we are losing every month? I know I can’t. I put this list together so that it can be easier to understand when too much is too much:
- Soaking a pad or tampon within an hour, or completely filling your menstrual cup.
- Not being able to participate in normal activities due to having your period.
- A period that goes on and on for more than seven days.
- Needing to double up on products to save your panties.
- Losing clots that are bigger than a quarter.
- Waking through the night to change in order to avoid a flood.
If any of the symptoms named above pertain to you, you may be wondering why this is happening. Sometimes the causes of menorrhagia are unknown. Many things can cause abnormal bleeding, however.
How is this Happening?
Although sometimes there is no satisfactory explanation for heavy menstrual bleeding, there could be several common causes for this terrible condition. If you’re unlucky enough to be experiencing this during your monthly, read below for some likely reasons:
- Hormone Imbalances
- Non-cancerous Uterine Fibroids
- Miscarriage and Pregnancy Problems
- Uterine Polyps
- Congenital Bleeding Conditions
The list above is composed of some pretty scary stuff, and you’re probably freaking out right now. Don’t be too worried though, most of the time menorrhagia can have causes that aren’t due to severe medical conditions. If you are using birth control such as an IUD, that could be a factor. You do need to know when it’s time to see a doctor, however.
Should I see a Doctor?
Heavy menstrual bleeding, or menorrhagia, affects at least 20% to 30% of women who are within their prime reproductive years. More than likely, the women that it does affect have had to seek out medical help concerning this condition. So how do you know if you should seek out a doctor? Consider these symptoms:
- Filling your pad, tampon, or menstrual cup in an hour for more than two hours.
- Unexpected and profuse vaginal bleeding between periods.
- Vaginal bleeding after having gone through menopause.
- Severe pain and/or a fever with substantial blood loss.
- Feeling tired, weak, dizzy, or nauseous while experiencing a heavy flow.
Heavy bleeding can disrupt your daily life, it can have you always be running to the bathroom, and it can be an overall pain in the you know what. Unfortunately, for some women, it can pose quite a serious medical risk – anemia. This can make you physically weak, can affect your heart rate and breathing, and can literally make you sick.
What are my Options?
In this day and age, there are many treatment options for menorrhagia, thank goodness. Having a period is something that women have experienced since the dawn of time, and aren’t we lucky to have modern medicine in order to deal with the worst of it? There are many medical treatment choices for this condition if it gets out of hand.
Oral medications such as an NSAID (ibuprofen), progesterone (a hormone medication), tranexamic acid, or being placed on birth control are all common forms of treatment for menorrhagia. The medicines can be beneficial and have fewer and less severe side effects than other types of treatment, such as surgery. Taking one of these options won’t affect your ability to have children at a later date, either.
If medical treatment isn’t successful in curbing the flow, so to speak, surgery may be your next option. There are many surgical options nowadays. You may be looking at a D&C (dilation and curettage), an endometrial ablation, or a hysterectomy – just to name a few. This is in the most severe of cases. You and your doctor will determine what’s best for you and how to proceed by running some tests.
I, myself, am a woman who’s experienced this condition. It was diagnosed after experiencing some miscarriage related problems, and severely impacted my life for some time. If you are a woman who is also going through this, don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor – you’ll be thankful you did in the long run.