Menorrhagia: Why is your period flow heavier than usual?

Is your period coming on time but the flow is heavier than usual? You probably have menorrhagia. Read on to find out why this is so and what you can do about it.

What is menorrhagia?

Menorrhagia is a condition when your period flow is heavier than usual even if your periods come on time as expected. This menstrual bleeding also lasts longer than usual and can stretch out to more than a week.

While the normal symptoms you feel during your periods are uncomfortable, the symptoms of menorrhagia go beyond this discomfort. They can render you useless, unable to go about your day to day activities.

What are the symptoms of menorrhagia?

In the beginning, you might think that you just have a slightly heavier flow than usual. However, there are other signs can alert you to the fact that you have menorrhagia.

These include:

  • bleeding so heavy that you need to change your tampon or pad numerous times an hour for several hours
  • having to change your pad or tampons throughout the night
  • heavy bleeding that requires you to insert two tampons or pads at the same time
  • passing very large blood clots, sometimes as big as an entire coin
  • bleeding for a period longer than a week
  • constant tiredness and fatigue which is a sign of fatigue

What are the causes of menorrhagia?

A number of things can cause the abnormally heavy flow during your periods. The problem might stem from the balance of your hormones, anatomic problems, infections, and bleeding disorders.

Some of these causes include:

·         Hormone imbalance

Your menstrual cycle is orchestrated by a fine balance between your hormones. Chief among these are estrogen and progesterone. When the balance is upset, you can have a situation where the lining of the uterus builds up more than it should.

When there’s no fertilization, this excess endometrium is shed and results in bleeding that is heavier than your usual period.

Thyroid problems, obesity or polycystic ovary syndrome are some of the conditions that bring about this hormone imbalance.

·         Fibroids and polyps

These benign structures change the structure of your uterine wall. Fibroids and polyps upset the balance of blood flow through the uterus wall. By hoarding a large amount of the blood, they weaken the wall around them, leading to massive bleeding.

The fibroids also interfere with the normal contraction of the muscles in the endometrium, contributing to the intense cramping you feel when you have menorrhagia.

·         Bleeding disorders

Sometimes your menorrhagia might be due to a hereditary bleeding disorder. For example, it could be von Willebrand disease. This can cause abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding or even bleeding when you have given birth to your child.

·         Medications and health interventions

Some medications like blood thinners interfere with the natural clotting factors that are supposed to bring menstrual bleeding to an end.

Continuous use of steroids and chemotherapy can also upend the normalcy of your menstrual cycle. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) also induce heavy bleeding.

How is menorrhagia treated?

When you go in to see your doctor, they will examine you to determine the cause of your menorrhagia. Depending on the findings, they can undertake any of the following measures to get your bleeding under control.

  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen
  • oral progesterone to right the hormone imbalance
  • myomectomy which is a procedure to remove fibroids
  • oral contraceptives to regulate your menstrual cycle
  • shrinking fibroids through focused ultrasound surgery or uterine artery embolization
  • iron supplements to undo the resultant anemia
  • resection, where the lining of the uterus is removed

(Image courtesy Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay)

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