Periods are a trying time for most women. To add on, if they suffering from heavy period bleeding, then it can be not only painful but also stressful. The medical term for heavy periods is ‘Menorrhagia’ wherein women experience abnormally heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, sometimes even heavy bleeding with clots.
Some of the symptoms of Menorrhagia are having to change your sanitary pad/tampon nearly every couple of hours, passing blood clots, and extreme tiredness and fatigue. If you are experiencing too much blood loss and cramping, which is affecting your daily activities, then getting in touch with a specialist is important.
The good news is, Menorrhagia can be treated once the cause for heavy periods is determined. Thus, mentioned below are a few causes/reasons for heavy periods along with natural remedies and other medical treatments for heavy periods that can treat this condition effectively.
A] What Causes Heavy Periods?
- Hormonal Imbalance: A healthy balance between the hormones – estrogen and progesterone – is important for a normal menstrual cycle. If there is an imbalance, it leads to an excess build-up of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), which is shed through heavy menstrual bleeding. The reasons for hormonal imbalance could be obesity, thyroid problems, PCOS, etc.
- Thyroid Dysfunction: One of the other reasons for heavy periods is thyroid dysfunction. Hypothyroidism or under-active thyroid can cause heavy bleeding, as, without sufficient thyroid hormone, your body is unable to make proteins, which help blood clot. These proteins are called clotting/coagulation factors.
- Fibroids: Uterine Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tissue growths that develop either within, inside or outside of a woman’s uterus. These can cause heavy and painful menstrual bleeding and are sometimes full of clots. There are various tests available that can help detect fibroids.
- Uterine Polyps: Unlike Fibroids, Polyps are non-cancerous (benign) growths that develop within/on the lining of the uterus (the endometrium). They are known to cause heavy bleeding. They may also cause heavy bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourse. Thus, it is advised to remove them, as they may cause problems not only with menstruation but also fertility.
- Endometriosis: When it comes to heavy period causes, this is another factor that may lead to long, heavy and painful periods. Endometriosis is a reproductive disorder, wherein, the tissues that line the inside of the uterus start growing on the outside. This can cause cysts and other issues, and heavy period is just one symptom of it.
- Polycystic Ovaries (PCOS): One of the other common Menorrhagia causes, PCOS is a hormonal condition that leads to severe hormonal imbalance, resulting in a heavy period with clots. Many women may also face infertility due to PCOS.
- Perimenopausal: Heavy menstrual bleeding during the perimenopause stage is due to the estrogen-progesterone imbalance. Since there is an erratic shift in the menstrual cycle during this time, you’d notice several changes ranging from irregular periods to spotting between periods to heavy bleeding.
- Endometrial Hyperplasia: This is a condition wherein the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) becomes abnormally thick, leading to irregular and heavy menstrual bleeding. If left untreated, this condition can progress to endometrial cancer.
- Adenomyosis: This is a gynecological disorder, where the endometrial glands grow (become embedded) into the muscle of the uterus, leading to heavy period bleeding.
Additional Ways to help heavy periods
Here are some additional tips that you can implement to make heavy periods more manageable
- Opt for a menstrual cup: A menstrual cup is a small silicone cup that is a great alternative to sanitary pads and tampons. It can be more effective than a tampon or a sanitary pad in holding blood with less likelihood of leakage. They are also reusable.
- Using period panties: These absorbent undergarments are made to be more efficient and comfortable during periods. They are built to work together with tampons and pads to reduce leakage and be more comfortable.
- Incorporating a heating pad: Heavy flows can cause painful menstrual cramps which can distract you from your daily tasks and be outright discomforting. A heating pad is meant to reduce pain and discomfort and provide heavy period relief.
- Incorporating a heating pad: Get plenty of rest: Menorrhagia results in significant blood loss, and your body requires a substantial amount of energy to replenish the lost blood. Taking sufficient rest can aid in coping with the energy drain and facilitate a quick recovery, thereby preventing fatigue.
- Exercise: While exercise may not have a direct effect on the pain experienced during difficult periods, certain physical exercises and activities such as yoga can help you reduce the stress related to it and therefore help you better deal with menorrhagia.
Further Reading: Pelvic Pain in Women: Causes and Treatment
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B] How To Stop Heavy Periods – Top 9 Natural Remedies
- Drink Enough Fluids: One of the simple natural remedies for heavy periods, staying hydrated helps you to maintain your blood volume, which may go down if you are continuously bleeding heavily for days.
- Eat Magnesium-rich Foods: This helps maintain hormonal balance, which, in turn, prevents heavy bleeding during periods. Green leafy vegetables, nuts & seeds, seafood (salmon, tuna), fruits (banana, avocado), legumes, etc are some of the magnesium-rich foods that you can eat.
- Add Iron To Your Diet: Deficiency of iron can worsen your period. Thus, add iron to your diet if you are suffering from heavy period bleeding. This will also help prevent iron deficiency anaemia. Some foods that are rich in iron are spinach, beans & lentils, oysters, tofu, etc.
- Eat Vitamin C-rich Foods: Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that helps absorb iron. As such, to avoid iron deficiency, eating vitamin C-rich foods like tomato, kiwis, red and green peppers, oranges, brussels sprouts, among others are recommended.
- Herbal Teas: Most herbal remedies (teas) for heavy period contain fhormonal balancing properties that help reduce heavy menstrual bleeding and menstrual cramps. Some also aid in regulating your menstrual cycle and reduce uterus inflammation. You can try out herbal teas like chamomile, cinnamon, ginger, thyme, and liquorice.
- Apple Cider Vinegar and Water: This is another effective natural remedy for heavy menstrual bleeding. Apple cider vinegar not only helps reduce menstrual blood flow but also relieves menstrual cramps. It also helps detoxify your body by flushing out toxins.
- Cold Compress: This is one of the other common home remedies for heavy periods that help reduce menstrual flow. Place a cold compress on your abdomen for at least 15-20 minutes. This helps tighten the blood vessel, decreasing menstrual bleeding as well as lessening the pain.
- Unripe Papaya: This is a popular natural way to stop heavy periods by helping reduce menstrual blood flow. Unripe papaya consists of an enzyme called ‘papain’ which helps to suppress the hormone progesterone. This, in turn, helps regulate uterine contraction and soothe the abdominal muscles, thus effectively controlling excessive bleeding during periods.
- Omega-3 Products: Essential fatty acids like omega-3 helps boost the production of essential hormones, thus decreasing excessive blood flow and assisting in reducing abnormal blood clots
C] Treatments For Heavy Periods
- Contraceptive Pills (Birth Control Pills): This is a common Menorrhagia treatment that helps in treating heavy periods and regulates the menstrual cycle by altering the balance of hormones resulting in reduced blood flow.
- Hormonal Intrauterine Device (IUD): Another treatment for heavy periods is a hormonal IUD such as the Mirena Coil. An IUD has effects on periods, in other words it can help lighten the menstrual blood flow and decrease cramping.
- Oral Medication: Oral medications like Tranexamic Acid or Mefenamic Acid is prescribed by a specialist to prevent excessive blood loss, and to treat mild to moderate menstrual pain, respectively.
- Removal of Uterine Polyps/Fibroids: To stop heavy period bleeding, the specialist may recommend the removal of uterine polyps/fibroids surgically.
- Endometrial Ablation: A specialist may also recommend Endometrial Ablation, which is a procedure to remove the endometrial lining of the uterus. This can help stop or reduce heavy period flow completely.
- Hysterectomy: This is a surgical procedure, wherein the uterus and the cervix are removed permanently.
When should you talk to a doctor?
It might be recommended to see a doctor if you are facing unusually heavy period flow for more than 2 months. Heavy bleeding during periods for a longer duration is linked to anaemia, even though heavy periods are more of an uncomfortable nuisance than a serious disease.
If you are facing any serious or even mild symptoms of anaemia, heavy period with clots that are unusually large or if your period lasts for more than a week, you should definitely see a doctor and start medication for heavy periods at the earliest.
Timely diagnosis and treatment can help you to effectively treat the various causes of Menorrhagia. The above-mentioned how to stop heavy periods naturally remedies are a few that you can try to alleviate pain and reduce blood loss during heavy periods. However, for extremely heavy menstrual bleeding, consulting with the gynaecologist is the only option, which can help you deal with this before it impacts your physical, psychological, and emotional health.
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