Heavy menstrual flow medically referred to as menorrhagia is a form of bleeding that can make a woman feel uncomfortable during the menstrual cycle. It can be accompanied with dysmenorrhea.
Heavy bleeding doesn't necessarily mean there's anything seriously wrong, but it can affect a woman physically and emotionally, and disrupt everyday life.
SIGNS THAT SHOW YOU HAVE HEAVY MENSTRUAL FLOW
You have heavy or excessive menstrual bleeding if:
· you change pads or tampons 3-5 times per day and it was not so before
· blood leaks off the pad or tampon to stain your clothes or bedsheet or seat
· you need to use tampons and towels together
What causes heavy periods?
Menorrhagia has no real cause most of the time but we do know that some conditions or medications do cause or increase the risk of menorrhagia.
Conditions that can cause heavy bleeding include:
· pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – UTI (the womb, fallopian tubes or ovaries) that can cause pelvic or abdominal pain and bleeding after sex or between periods
· polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a common condition that affects how the ovaries work; it causes irregular periods, and periods can be heavy when they start again
· fibroids – non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the womb and can cause heavy or painful periods
· adenomyosis – when tissue from the womb lining becomes embedded in the wall of the womb
· endometriosis – when small pieces of the womb lining are found outside the womb, such as in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder or vagina (although this is more likely to cause painful periods)
· Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) – where the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones, causing tiredness, weight gain and feelings of depression
· blood clotting disorders
· cancer of the womb (although this is relatively rare)
· an IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device, or "the coil") – this can make your periods heavier for the first three to six months after insertion
· anticoagulant medication (drugs that prevent blood clots)
· some medicines used for chemotherapy
Treating heavy periods
You may not need treatment if a serious cause isn't suspected, or the bleeding doesn't affect your everyday life.
Bleeding after childbirth
After having a baby, heavy vaginal bleeding, known as lochia, is very common and completely normal. It's your body's way of getting rid of the womb lining after you've given birth.
The bleeding can last from two to six weeks, and the blood may come out quickly, or slowly and evenly.
The amount of blood loss varies between women. If you've had a caesarean section, you'll also have some bleeding as the womb lining sheds, although it may be lighter than if you'd had a vaginal birth.
You'll need to use thick sanitary pads to start with while the bleeding is at its heaviest.
Once the flow settles down, you can switch to using normal sanitary pads. Always wash your hands before and after changing your pad.
Don't use tampons for the first six weeks after the birth as it increases the risk of your womb becoming infected.
The colour of the blood will also change in the days and weeks after childbirth. It'll be bright red for the first few days and may contain small clots.
As the bleeding becomes less heavy, the colour of the blood will lighten, becoming pinkish and more watery.
It's important to make sure you get plenty of rest and don't overdo it during this time. It could be a postpartum haemorrhage caused by a piece of placenta still inside your womb. You may need antibiotics or an operation to remove the piece of placenta.
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