Changing your tampon every two hours or less or passing blood clots the size of a quarter indicates a heavy menstrual cycle. Anything above 80 milliliters from the start to the end of your period is considered heavy bleeding. That’s the equivalent of about 5 tablespoons.
Each month, if you don’t get pregnant, estrogen and progesterone levels start going down right before your monthly bleeding, which enables the shedding of build-up on the lining of your uterus.
A cycle is considered regular if there are anywhere between 24 to 38 days between menstruations. On average, you can expect to menstruate about five days per month. Women who menstruate for more than seven days may also experience a heavy period.
If you suspect your period is heavy, read on as our experts at The Ashford Center in Athens, Georgia, explain what heavy periods could indicate and what potential treatments are available.
Aside from requiring frequent pad changes and causing worries about stains, heavy cycles can indicate hormone imbalances and certain underlying conditions.
One of the most common consequences of heavy bleeding is anemia, a condition in which there aren’t enough red cells to carry oxygen to the tissues via the blood. This can leave you tired and depleted at first, and in the long run, it can cause a number of complications, including heart issues.
A heavy cycle can also indicate uterine fibroids, endometriosis, thyroid disorders, kidney disease, and, in some rare cases, cancer. Medications and even certain birth control methods, such as IUDs, can sometimes cause heavy bleeding.
We may recommend blood tests to check for anemia and hormone imbalances, a Pap smear to look for signs of infection or inflammation in your cervix, or an ultrasound to check the health of your reproductive organs.
We also discuss your birth control methods and any medications you’re taking.
Depending on the underlying cause of your heavy bleeding, treatment may include iron supplements if you’re anemic, ibuprofen for reducing cramping and bleeding, and hormone therapy.
If you don’t respond to drug therapy or can’t take certain medications, you may also be a good candidate for endometrial ablation. In this procedure, we remove the uterine lining, so it isn’t recommended for women who plan to get pregnant in the future.
Heavy periods aren’t easy to live with, and they’re often accompanied by severe cramping and discomfort. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to make your life easier.
Contact us to schedule an appointment and find the best route toward more comfortable menstruation.