Menorrhagia, also known as heavy periods, can leave you with painful and disruptive menstrual periods that interfere with your daily life.
During a typical menstrual cycle, you may 30 to 60 mL of blood and fluid. Consistently losing more than 80 mL during your menstrual period is generally considered to be menorrhagia, or medically heavy periods. However, it can be challenging to measure the volume of blood loss, so your OBGYN will typically use other symptoms to diagnose your menorrhagia. These include:
- Consistently soaking through at least one tampon or sanitary pad an hour
- Passing large blood clots (the size of a quarter or larger)
- Periods lasting longer than one week
- Anemia with your menstrual cycle
Causes of Menorrhagia
If you are experience abnormally heavy periods, your OBGYN will investigate if you have one of the following possible causes:
- Miscarriage and Ectopic Pregnancy- menorrhagia can occur in a single month due to pregnancy loss or implantation of the the embryo outside of the uterine cavity
- Birth Control- non-hormonal intrauterine devices (IUD) are known to cause menorrhagia as a side effect
- Abnormal Uterine Growths- uterine fibroids and polyps are non-cancerous growths in the uterine cavity that can cause heavy periods
- Hormonal Imbalances- causes overdevelopment of the endometrium, which leads to heavy periods when it is shed
- Blood Disorders and Cancer- while rare, some cancers may cause menorrhagia, as well as inherited blood clotting disorders
Diagnosis & Treatment
It is recommended you track the duration, heaviness of flow, presence of clots and dates of your menstrual periods prior to your appointment. Your OBGYN will use your menstrual history, as well as other diagnostic tools:
- Blood tests can identify hormonal imbalances, blood-clotting and thyroid disorders
- Pap tests will look for cancerous cells, infections or inflammation
- Ultrasound scans can identify ectopic pregnancy, uterine fibroids and other disorders with the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes
- Additional medical tests that may be recommended include endometrial biopsy, sonohysterogram, and hysteroscopy to look for problems with the uterine lining
Once your OBGYN identifies the probable cause of your abnormally heavy periods, treatment options may include:
- Birth control or hormone therapy
Surgical treatment, including dilation and curettage (D&C), endometrial resection, or endometrial ablation to remove the endometrial lining and reduce menstrual flow.
Speak with Dr. Nathan Thomas to learn more about menorrhagia and treatment options.