What is Menorrhagia?

When a woman’s menstruation cycle occurs at the right time but is accompanied by unusually heavy bleeding, the condition is known as Menorrhagia. The bleeding may last longer than the four to seven days of normal periods.

Doctors often require the amount of bleeding to interrupt your daily activities in order to diagnose you with this condition rather than simply considering it within the normal range of bleeding. Bleeding disorders and uterine or ovarian growths tend to trigger this disorder.

What are the Symptoms of Menorrhagia?

It can be difficult to tell if you’re experiencing heavy bleeding when you’re not sure what other women normally experience. One clear sign is the need to change your sanitary pad or tampon every two hours or sooner.

Large blood clots the size of a quarter or bigger also indicate menorrhagia. Anemia also tends to occur with this condition because of the sheer loss of blood volume. Doctors often look for other signs of bleeding disorders since excessive menstruation could indicate a problem that becomes life-threatening in case of an accident.

Menorrhagia Causes

There are several causes that contribute to menorrhagia, ranging from hormonal problems to certain medications.

  • Uterine-related problems. These include the noncancerous growth or tumors of the uterus (called uterine fibroids or polyps); uterine or cervical cancer; and certain types of birth controls such as intrauterine device (IUD). Problems relating to pregnancy such as miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy can also contribute to heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Hormonal-related problems. Specifically, hormone imbalance causes menstruation to flow heavier than normal. Usually, the balance between the hormones estrogen and progesterone regulates the build-up of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) which is shed during normal menstruation. When the hormone imbalance occurs, the buildup of the endometrium is developed and sheds excessively, causing the heavy menstrual bleeding. This imbalance is caused by several medical conditions such as obesity and insulin resistance.
  • Bleeding-related disorders. This includes Von Willebrand disease (VWD) and the platelet function disorder.
  • Certain Medications. Certain drugs like aspirin and warfarin can cause and prolong heavy bleeding.
  • Nonbleeding-related disorders. Liver, kidney or thyroid diseases are just a few medical conditions that contribute to menorrhagia.

How is Menorrhagia Treated?

If testing rules out cancer or other serious potential causes, you’re free to treat the condition at home. Taking iron supplements is the best way to handle anemia. There are also medications to control blood loss, which is important in cases caused by blood disorders. Intrauterine devices, oral hormones, and other contraceptives help control the duration of periods as well, but won’t necessarily control blood flow in some cases.

Combining blood loss medication and birth control can work to keep the most serious cases of menorrhagia under control. Surgery may be necessary in conditions triggered by fibroids and other growths on the uterus and ovaries.

Menorraghia Prevention

There is no known prevention aimed specifically at menorrhagia. However, there is one method that may help prevent both heavy bleeding and other mild menstrual disorders like cramps and that is diet changes. The ideal diet involves eating plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables while avoiding food high in saturated fats and commercial junk food. Meat may be required to help maintain iron levels in the blood. Salt restriction and low-fat vegetarian diet may contribute to less pain and bloating. It is recommended that these dietary changes take place approximately 14 days before the menstrual period occurs. There are several treatments known to cure or reduce heavy bleeding, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), oral contraceptives, iron supplements, and hysterectomy. The success of these treatments depends on the causes and the severity of menorrhagia.