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.
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 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.
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.