Why you need to get medical help for menorrhagia ?
What is menorrhagia?
Menorrhagia is a medical condition where you have painful menstrual periods accompanied by heavy bleeding.
Although bleeding is a normal occurrence with menstruation, the amount of blood is limited to perhaps two to three tablespoons (30-45 ml) a day. Bleeding more than this quantity is considered menorrhagia.
What are the symptoms of menorrhagia?
Menorrhagia symptoms include heavy, uncontrolled bleeding. This may occur from the onset of the first period, or it could develop later in life. You should consult your doctor if you have heavy periods or develop them at a later date.
If you have menorrhagia, you might exhibit the following menorrhagia signs and symptoms:
- Frequent tampons or pad changing
- Possibly needing to wear double sanitary pads
- Longer periods than the usual seven days
- Bleeding in between periods
- Fatigue and breathlessness
- Passing large blood clots
- Being so incapacitated that you cannot perform your daily routine tasks
- Bleeding even after menopause
What causes menorrhagia?
There can be multiple menorrhagia causes as follows:
Every month, your uterus wall builds up a lining. If you have a hormonal imbalance, the lining becomes thicker. When your uterus sheds this extra-thick lining, it can result in heavy bleeding.
A growth in your uterus
The presence of polyps (growths) in your uterus can result in the development of fibroids (benign, non-cancerous tumours). The result can be heavier and longer menstrual periods.
An intrauterine device (IUD) is something a doctor inserts into your uterus for birth control purposes. You can find multiple types of IUDs.
While they are reasonably effective in preventing pregnancy, they can also create an imbalance in hormone levels, resulting in heavy bleeding during periods.
An ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the fallopian tubes) can cause heavy bleeding, which resembles menstrual bleeding. A miscarriage can also cause heavy bleeding.
Some people tend to bleed heavily if cut. It is due to the inability of the blood to clot in the event of an injury. If you have this condition, you are more likely to have heavier and longer periods.
Certain medications like blood thinners or anti-inflammatory drugs tend to give you heavy periods.
Other health issues
Many other health issues can give cause menorrhagia. You may experience heavy menstrual bleeding if you suffer from any of these medical conditions:
- Thyroid problems
- Kidney disease
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Liver disease
Any form of heavy blood loss can be dangerous. Heavy bleeding due to menorrhagia can lead to anaemia, a condition which occurs due to iron deficiency. It results in a drop in your hemoglobin, a red protein in the blood that aids in respiration.
Since menorrhagia can cause anaemia, which can be life-threatening, it can be dangerous.
What is the treatment for menorrhagia?
Your doctor will recommend a particular line of menorrhagia treatment, which will depend on the extent of your problem and also its source:
Birth control medication
Birth control medication can restore your hormones to their normal levels. You might also have to get an IUD that releases hormones, which can help correct your hormone levels.
Certain drugs can help stem your heavy menstrual flow. Your doctor might prescribe any of these drugs.
A common cause of vaginal or menstrual bleeding is the presence of fibroids. If you have polyps or fibroids in your uterus, your doctor might try to shrink them or surgically remove them.
Dilation and curettage (D&C)
This is a procedure involving scraping the outermost uterine layer. D&C has a high chance of success, but you might have to repeat the procedure later.
Endometrial ablation or endometrial resection
Here, the doctor removes the lining of your uterus permanently. It can result in lighter periods or no periods at all.
With certain extreme types of menorrhagia, a doctor will advise removing the uterus. This surgical procedure is called a hysterectomy.
After a hysterectomy, you will not get your period, but you cannot become pregnant either.
Is menorrhagia curable?
Your menorrhagia cure depends on its source. If it is caused by medication, simply discontinuing or changing the medication should suffice. If your menorrhagia symptoms include anaemia, you might have to take iron supplements.
Any of the lines of treatment mentioned earlier can cure menorrhagia. Sometimes, your heavy periods may subside on their own. But with suitable medical intervention, menorrhagia can be controlled if not cured.
What are the risk factors for menorrhagia?
Risk factors depend on your age and if you have other underlying medical issues or not.
Young girls on the verge of adolescence are more prone to puberty menorrhagia. Older women with uterine-related medical issues also tend to develop menorrhagia.
When should I see my healthcare provider?
If you have excessive bleeding that continues for over a week or you experience bleeding intermittently between periods, you should seek medical help.
You should also do so if you are menopausal and continue to experience vaginal bleeding.
How to diagnose menorrhagia?
Your healthcare provider will diagnose your menorrhagia based on your response to the following questions:
- Age when you had your first period
- Duration of each period
- Number of days when you experience heavy bleeding
- Family medical history
- Pregnancy history
- Current medications
You may also have to undergo a few tests as follows:
- Sonohysterogram (saline-infusion sonography)
- Hysteroscopy (internal inspection of the vagina, cervix, and uterus)
- Pap smear
- Transvaginal ultrasound
- Endometrial biopsy (removal and microscopic examination of a small section of the uterine wall)
- Blood test
Menorrhagia is not necessarily a life-threatening disease. However, you shouldn’t neglect anything that involves heavy bleeding.
If you notice more than usual blood loss during your period, seek medical attention to find the reason for menorrhagia and get it treated.
Heavy periods can interfere with your emotional and physical well-being as well. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can contact the CK Birla Hospital or make an appointment with Dr. Deepika Aggarwal , who can help you get the best possible medical assistance with compassionate care.
Is menorrhagia a serious problem?
If you experience heavy blood loss while menstruating, it can be serious. A common outcome of menorrhagia is anaemia. You should thus take it seriously and get appropriate treatment at the earliest.
Further, menorrhagia can interfere with your daily activities and peace of mind. It becomes a serious problem because it hampers your normal functioning.
How long can a menorrhagia period last?
The typical bleeding period for menstruation is four to five days. The blood loss is roughly two to three tablespoons (30-45 ml). If you have menorrhagia, the bleeding will last for more than seven days, and you can lose up to twice as much blood.
Can PCOS cause menorrhagia?
Yes, women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can also experience menorrhagia.
Does menorrhagia affect pregnancy?
Menorrhagia is more like a symptom rather than a disease. It can occur due to hormonal imbalance, which can have adverse effects on pregnancy.
On the other hand, menorrhagia can occur due to other underlying medical conditions which can affect pregnancy.
Does menorrhagia stop on its own?
There have been cases where menorrhagia has disappeared on its own. But since there is no means for the prevention of menorrhagia, it’s always advisable to seek medical help immediately and not delay to avoid further complications.