Every woman’s flow is different, and though some women have a heavier flow than others, an excessively heavy period isn’t normal. If you’re having heavy or painful periods, don’t try to tough it out. It’s often a sign of an underlying issue, such as endometriosis.
Dr. Lillian Schapiro and the rest of the Ideal Gynecology team provide compassionate, expert care for gynecological issues, including heavy periods and endometriosis. It can take several years for a woman to receive an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis, and this is mostly because of a lack of awareness surrounding what’s normal for menstrual flow and what isn’t.
We’ve put together some helpful information so that you can spot the signs that it’s time to see a woman’s health specialist for an evaluation if you’re dealing with heavy periods.
Endometriosis at a glance
Endometriosis affects roughly one in 10 women in the United States. It occurs when tissue from the tissue lining the inside of the uterus grows in other areas, such as the ovaries or the Fallopian tubes. When this happens, the tissue behaves the same way as it does inside the uterus during your menstrual cycle, thickening, breaking down, and bleeding.
This spells trouble because there is nowhere for the rogue tissue to exit the body the way the tissue from the uterus exits through the vagina during your period. The stimulation and thickening can make your periods quite painful, while the rogue tissue can turn into scar tissue and cysts. The result is an excessively heavy flow and often, period pain.
Spotting the signs that something is off
It’s important to know the signs that something is amiss with your menstrual flow so that you don’t suffer unnecessarily. Heavy periods are the main symptom of endometriosis. The risk of endometriosis increases with age, but it can affect women of all ages. The majority of women with endometriosis are in their 30s and 40s.
So when is your period considered abnormally heavy? If you’re needing to change your tampon or pad every one to two hours and you’re needing to get up in the middle of the night to change your tampon, then it’s safe to say you’re having excessively heavy periods. If your period is so heavy that it interferes with your daily life, you can benefit from discussing treatment options with our team.
Though heavy periods are the main symptom of endometriosis, other signs of endometriosis to look out for include:
- Debilitatingly painful menstrual cramps
- Painful bowel movements during your period
- Pain during sex
- Lower abdominal pain
- Spotting between periods
Because endometriosis often involves the ovaries and Fallopian tubes, endometriosis can cause problems getting pregnant.
Getting help for endometriosis
Endometriosis is treatable. We will work with you to address your symptoms and recommend an appropriate treatment approach. The majority of treatment focuses on regulating the hormones that stimulate the endometrium.
Oral contraceptives are commonly recommended as the first treatment. The pill can prevent mild-to-moderate endometriosis from progressing while managing discomfort. The combined oral contraceptive can be used to entirely stop your period.
Endometrial ablation is another option. It’s an in-office treatment that involves destroying the uterine lining. It’s effective at providing symptom relief and may be an excellent solution for women who are done having children.
Now is a good time to talk to see a women’s health provider about heavy or painful periods. Rest assured that relief is possible with treatment. Schedule a visit with the Ideal Gynecology team if you’re having any issues with your period. We’re glad to discuss your symptoms and help you find an effective solution. Call or submit a booking request online.