Heavy menstrual periods can be distressing. Women who experience heavy menses often report an interruption in their daily activities. Heavy periods can cause you to cancel plans, miss out on things you enjoy, and get in the way of productivity.
Women’s health professionals are your best resources when you have questions or concerns about your period. Board-certified gynecologist Lillian Schapiro, MD, and women’s health nurse practitioners Kathyrn Garren, WHNP, and Kimberly Barbee, FNP, can answer your questions and address your concerns surrounding heavy menstrual bleeding.
Defining heavy menstrual bleeding
Periods are nearly as individual as you are. Heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) is medically defined as more than 80 mL of menstrual fluid loss per cycle. However, doctors rarely use the technical definition to evaluate your flow. The average flow is 30-40 mL of fluid loss per cycle. However, heavy flow is generally defined based on the rate of sanitary protection change.
You’re considered to have heavy menstrual bleeding if you soak through one pad or tampon per hour for several consecutive hours. Heavy periods are also defined as having a menstrual flow that lasts more than seven days. Visiting a women’s health physician is one of the best steps you can take toward addressing your concerns about your menstrual flow.
Health implications of heavy periods
In general, heavy periods aren’t life-threatening. Iron loss and preventing iron deficiency are the main health concerns. Heavy periods can deplete your iron stores. Women with heavy periods often have low iron stores (ferritin) and are at risk of iron-deficiency anemia.
In rare cases, heavy menstrual bleeding is a symptom of a clotting disorder. However, most women with heavy menses do not have blood clotting abnormalities.
Managing heavy periods
Stress, anxiety, and life dysruption are the main side effects of heavy periods, and the team at Ideal Gynecology understands how distressing heavy periods can be. Your Ideal Gynecology provider will discuss treatment options to ease your symptoms. The following are common approaches to managing heavy periods.
Hormonal contraceptives are the most commonly prescribed treatment for heavy periods that significantly interrupt your daily life. Contraceptives effectively reduce blood loss so that your periods are lighter.
Minerva endometrial ablation is a quick, safe, one-time procedure that involves delivering radiofrequency energy to permanently remove the lining of the uterus (endometrium).
Surgical therapies are an option for women with heavy bleeding who are done having children.
Sometimes lifestyle changes are enough to improve heavy periods. Women who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk of heavy periods. Fat cells are more than just inactive storage banks of energy. They secrete various hormones and influence the balance of estrogen and progesterone. Losing weight may improve hormonal balance and ease heavy periods.
Additionally, getting more exercise may have a positive influence on hormones and improve heavy menstrual bleeding also.
Relief from heavy periods is possible. To learn more, call our Atlanta or McDonough office to schedule an appointment with an Ideal Gynecology provider. New and existing patients can also book requests online.