The medical name for heavy periods is menorrhagia, and it’s bleeding that lasts for more than seven days, requires you to change your pad or tampon after less than two hours, or causes you to pass clots that are the size of a quarter or larger. Often, heavy bleeding is accompanied by severe cramps and discomfort that can make simply living your life difficult.
At Apple Hill Gynecology, Dr. Marsha Bornt and her staff have encountered patients who are surprised to find that they experience heavy periods—and even more surprised to learn that there are effective treatments for many of the conditions that cause heavy bleeding. In this post, we discuss seven of the most common causes of heavy periods.
1. Hormone issues
Throughout your menstrual cycle your hormone levels vary. All this variation means that imbalances happen sometimes. When there’s an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone, particularly, the lining of your uterus, the endometrium, may develop more than it should, causing heavy bleeding during your period.
Along with the fact that your hormone levels vary naturally, many different medical conditions can affect your hormones. For example, insulin resistance and obesity, which are both quite common, can affect your levels of estrogen and progesterone.
2. Uterine fibroids
Most women have uterine fibroids, and many aren’t aware of it because they don’t cause any problems. However, these noncancerous tumors can sometimes cause heavy bleeding or prolonged periods.
Polyps are also a type of growth. They occur on the inside walls of your uterus. Polyps can be very small, or they can grow as large as a golf ball or perhaps get even bigger. If you have endometriosis, you may have a greater risk of developing polyps.
4. Some medications
Some medications are associated with heavy bleeding. For example, anti-inflammatory medications, some hormonal medications, and blood thinners are all potential causes of heavy or prolonged bleeding.
5. Various health conditions
Numerous health conditions can cause heavy periods. Endometriosis is one of the most well-known and common reasons women have heavy periods. A condition called adenomyosis, which involves your endometrium becoming embedded in the muscles of your uterine wall, can result in painful, heavy periods.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), thyroid disorders, kidney disease, and liver disease are all also associated with heavy menstrual bleeding. Cancers of the cervix or ovaries can also lead to heavy bleeding.
6. Bleeding disorders
Bleeding disorders often run in families, are relatively rare, and can cause excessive menstrual bleeding. If you have a family history of a condition such as Willebrand’s disease and you have heavy periods, you should discuss it with Dr. Bornt.
7. Dysfunction of the ovaries
Each month of your childbearing years, one of your ovaries releases an egg. If this doesn’t happen for some reason, your body may not produce the correct balance of hormones, which can cause heavy bleeding.
Most of the underlying causes of menorrhagia can be treated effectively. Even if heavy bleeding is normal for you, it doesn't mean you just have to live with it. If you have heavy or painful periods, schedule an appointment at Apple Hill Gynecology today, and find out what your treatment options might be.