Understanding heavy periods

Written by: Dr Elizabeth Egbase
Published:
Edited by: Karolyn Judge

Do you experience heavy periods and want to address how they - and the accompanying symptoms - are affecting your quality of life?

 

We speak to Dr Elizabeth Egbase, leading consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, in order to shed light on this topic. She provides her comprehensive advice on this common, yet debilitating, concern. Read on to learn more.

 

Woman who is experiencing heavy periods

What are heavy periods?

Heavy periods, also known as menorrhagia, involve excessive menstrual bleeding that lasts for an extended duration or is accompanied by the need to change tampons or pads more frequently than usual. It can disrupt daily activities and lead to a decreased quality of life.

 

 

What are the underlying causes of heavy periods?

Several factors can contribute to heavy periods. These include:

  • Hormonal imbalance: Fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, can lead to irregular and heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Uterine conditions: Conditions like fibroids (noncancerous growths in the uterus), polyps (small tissue growths on the uterine lining), and adenomyosis (thickening of the uterine wall) can cause heavy bleeding.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as thyroid disorders, bleeding disorders, and pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to heavy periods.
  • IUDs or birth control methods: Some contraceptive methods, like intrauterine devices (IUDs), may result in heavier periods.

 

 

What are the common symptoms of heavy periods?

Women experiencing heavy periods may notice the following symptoms:

  • Excessive menstrual bleeding that lasts longer than usual.
  • The need to change sanitary products frequently (every hour or two).
  • Passing large blood clots during menstruation.
  • Fatigue due to blood loss.
  • Anaemia (low red blood cell count) symptoms, including weakness and dizziness.

 

 

How are heavy periods diagnosed, and what treatment options are available?

If you suspect you have heavy periods, consult a healthcare professional. Diagnosis involves a thorough medical history review, physical examination, and possibly blood tests to check for anaemia and underlying medical conditions.

Treatment options

Treatment options vary depending on the cause and severity of the condition:

Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage heavy bleeding and alleviate pain. Hormonal therapies, such as birth control pills, hormone-releasing IUDs, and tranexamic acid, can regulate menstrual flow.

Surgical interventions: In more severe cases, when conservative treatments are ineffective, surgical options might be considered. Procedures like endometrial ablation (removal of the uterine lining) or hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) could be recommended.

Minimally invasive techniques: Advanced techniques like hysteroscopy and laparoscopy allow for precise diagnosis and treatment of underlying issues without extensive surgical procedures.

 

 

Are there any lifestyle changes that can help manage heavy periods?

Yes, making certain lifestyle changes can help alleviate the impact of heavy periods. These include:

  • maintaining a healthy weight;
  • managing stress;
  • staying physically active, and;
  • adopting a balanced diet rich in iron and other essential nutrients.

 

 

When should I seek immediate medical attention regarding heavy periods?

If you experience symptoms like severe abdominal pain, heavy bleeding that requires changing sanitary products every hour, or signs of anaemia (weakness, dizziness), it's crucial to seek medical help promptly.

 

Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for heavy periods can empower women to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. If you're dealing with heavy periods, consult a qualified healthcare professional to explore the most appropriate treatment approach based on your individual needs and medical history. Remember, effective management is available, and you don't have to suffer in silence.

 

 

 

If you’re concerned about having heavy periods, and would like to arrange an expert appointment with Dr Egbase, arrange an appointment with her via her Top Doctors profile.

By Dr Elizabeth Egbase
Obstetrics & gynaecology

Dr Elizabeth Egbase is an experienced consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist based in London. She specialises in heavy periods, painful periods and ovarian cysts, alongside fibroids, contraception and early pregnancy. She privately practises at The Women's Wellness Centre, while her NHS base is the Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, where she is the junior doctor rota consultant lead.  

Dr Egbase, who describes herself as dynamic, innovative and a kind clinician, is passionate about delivering high-quality and equitable women's health care. She has a woman-focused, empathetic and respectful approach to her patients, and being part of the movement to improve women's health inequalities is a significant motivation as a clinician.  

She is highly qualified, and has an MB BS from University College London's medical school, with an intercalated BSc in the History of Medicine.

She also has an MA (Distinction) in Medical Education in a Clinical Context from Queen Mary's University, London. Dr Egbase undertook her further obstetrics and gynaecology training at various renowned hospital and was a senior trainee at a tertiary hospital in Brighton for two years. 

Dr Egbase is also respected name in obstetric and gynaecological education, and currently is a tutor at the simulation faculty at Barts Health Education Academy. She's also an influential member of the maternity safety charity Baby Lifeline, steering its agenda via its Multi-Professional Advisory Panel.

Furthermore, her leadership qualities are reflected in delivering several presentations to the Northeast London Maternity Voices Partnership, NHSE/I and patient advocacy groups such as Black Health Matters and the Black Medical Society.    

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