Health Problem >> Menstruation Problems >> Excessive Bleeding (Menorrhagia)

Excessive Bleeding (Menorrhagia)


Periods that are unusually heavy or prolonged are medically known as menorrhagia. Medical textbooks define menorrhagia as a menstrual flow that exceeds 80 ccs of fluid. If your periods suddenly become heavy for no obvious reason, if you are soaking through 1-2 pads in 1-2 hours, if you're passing large clots, or if you have been bleeding for longer than seven days, please see your doctor. You might be suffering from menorrhagia.

There are many possible causes of menorrhagia. It may be caused by a hormonal imbalance that can be controlled by taking prescribed hormones. Regular but heavy periods can be caused by structural abnormalities in the uterus such as endometrial polyps or fibroids (non-cancerous growths inside the wall of the uterus), or clotting problems. If the bleeding pattern is irregular, it may be caused by the absence of ovulation, which can cause dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Occasionally heavy periods are a sign of Endometriosis--a condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus travel and grow in other parts of the body. Heavy periods can also be associated with under activity of the thyroid--a gland in the neck that helps control many body functions. Heavy periods also occur when an IUD (intra-uterine device) is used, or if women stop taking birth control pills. Some medical researchers believe that an iron deficiency stimulates bleeding, which in turn leads to an even greater deficiency of iron.

Menorrhagia is a common problem, especially in the first few years of menstruating and the last few years before menopause. It is generally not a serious problem, but it can be inconvenient. Menstruation normally causes a decrease in physical energy, weakness and if you bleed heavily you may find that respiration is impaired and blood pressure lowered-some women become lightheaded and exhausted. Also, if longstanding, it can lead to iron-deficiency (anemia). Therefore, you should see your doctor if you are concerned that your periods are heavy.

How is abnormal uterine bleeding diagnosed?

Traditionally, an endometrial biopsy, or sampling of the lining of the uterus is done to rule out possibilities of cancer or pre-cancer. Hysteroscopy is another method by which it is also possible to look directly into the uterus using a thin telescope called a hysteroscope. Hysteroscopy is usually a simple office procedure that gives far more information than endometrial biopsy alone. D&C (dilation and curettage) is used in an emergency to stop extremely heavy bleeding.

Your doctor may suggest you take birth control pills or non-contraceptive hormone treatment. This will prevent ovulation, which in turn reduces the build-up of the uterine lining before each period. The result is less blood flow. However the cause of the abnormal bleeding first needs to be determined. If the bleeding is caused by lack of ovulation, cycling with progesterone will usually control the problem. For some women, surgery is another alternative. Many women think that hysterectomy is the only choice left. This procedure involves removing your uterus, so it is an option that demands very careful consideration. But while hysterectomy ends the menstrual flow, these women are still vulnerable to dangerous bleeding if they are injured or undergo surgery.

Thus before taking any decisions regarding surgery try a natural solution. Though menorrhagia may be caused by a number of reasons there are two systems in the body that seem to have a particularly strong effect on how much bleeding occurs. One is the endocrine system and the other is the liver. The thyroid plays a very important part in the endocrine system, and nourishing and balancing the thyroid should not be ignored. You should include good food in your diet. Foods high in vitamins and minerals and calcium are essential. Dark green leafy vegetables and root vegetables should also be eaten, as well as whole grains (avoid red meats). You should also avoid refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.

The contents of this Web site are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be used for medical advice. You should consult your physician or family doctor immediately with any problem about which you are concerned.

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