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
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.