Occasional heavy periods are a pretty normal thing. However, if you’re experiencing extremely heavy periods on a regular basis, then it’s a troublesome matter. Although excessive menstrual bleeding or sudden heavy period is a commonly occurring health issue among women, you should take steps to cure it as soon as possible.
In this article, we will show you what menorrhagia is, its causes, and its symptoms that women should not ignore. You will also learn about the possible treatment methods that can help you get rid of it.
So let’s dive in.
A] What Is Menorrhagia (Sudden Heavy Period)?
Menorrhagia is a medical condition where a patient experiences an unusually long and heavy menstrual flow and menstrual cycle. Although many women often experience cramps during their periods and heavy flow days, menorrhagia is not a common condition. You should not ignore heavy periods.
During menorrhagia or sudden heavy Irregular periods, you will experience a flow so heavy that you will probably need to change your tampons or pads every hour, at least for an entire day. The cramps will be severe enough to hinder you from performing your usual daily activities.
These random heavy periods can happen because of many subtle health issues. So, if your pads are completely soaked, or you need to change tampons every hour or two regularly, it’s time to contact your doctor.
B] What Are The Causes Of the Sudden Heavy Periods?
Let’s take a look at some of the key causes of menorrhagia:
1. Uterine Polyps or Fibroids
Uterine polyps are tiny, non-cancerous growth of tissues that show up in the uterus. They can cause serious health complications, infertility due to uterine polyps, and heavy bleeding. Sometimes uterine polyps, one of the common causes of infertility, may also be cancerous in some cases. Some of the possible treatments for uterine polyps include:
- Hormone therapy
- Surgical removal of the polyp.
On the other hand, fibroids are a kind of non-cancerous growth that show up around the uterine line. Although people who have fibroids don’t always experience any symptoms, the following complications may still appear later on:
- Heavy bleeding
- Fertility issues
- Pain during sex
- Frequent urination
- Pregnancy complications
- A strange feeling of fullness around your belly
2. Pregnancy Complications
In some rare cases, once fertilization is complete, the growing group of cells is implanted outside of the uterus instead of being implanted inside of it. This rare case of pregnancy is called an ectopic pregnancy.
This isn’t a realistic pregnancy, and it may lead to severe health problems. Heavy bleeding is one of those complications, which people often mistake as an extremely heavy period.
Miscarriage, which happens when a baby dies in a patient’s womb, might also lead to heavy bleeding.
Endometriosis is a medical condition where tissue or a group of tissues from the womb lining starts growing outside of the womb. Often, this results in excruciating pain for the patient and leads to excessive menstrual bleeding.
Here’s a list of symptoms of endometriosis:
- Painful menstrual cramps
- Pain during sex
- Bleeding between periods
- Severe lower back and pelvic pain in women
- Painful bowel movements
4. Bleeding Disorders
Bleeding disorders can often cause heavier periods. In fact, every 1 out of 10 US women who are suffering from sudden heavy periods has a bleeding disorder. Let’s take a look at the symptoms of bleeding disorders:
- Easy bruising
- Heavy vaginal bleeding because of conditions that are either related to or not related to menstruation
- Difficulty in controlling nosebleeding
- Unusually long bleeding from cuts or injuries
- Bleeding in joints, muscles, and organs
Some of the most common treatments for bleeding disorders are as follows:
- Iron supplements
- Hormonal medications
5. Uterine Cancer
Uterine cancer can also cause heavy vaginal bleeding along with many other medical complications. Some of the common symptoms of uterine cancer are:
- Excessive menstrual bleeding
- Pain in the pelvic area
- Pain during sex
- Painful urination
6. Other Disorders
There are many other reasons for heavy periods. For example, high levels of estrogen or taking medications that can thin your blood, like birth control pills. In fact, long-term illnesses may also cause sudden heavy periods.
Some of those illnesses are:
- Liver diseases
- Kidney diseases
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Different types of cancer
C] What Are The Symptoms Of a Sudden Heavy Period?
Understanding the causes of heavy periods is good and all. But if you don’t notice the symptoms of excessive menstrual bleeding, you won’t be able to pinpoint the problem at all. Here’s a list of some of the most common symptoms of a sudden heavy period.
- Using Lots of Tampons or Pads: Are you being forced to change your sanitary pads or tampons once every hour or two? If that’s the case and it continues for a day without stopping, then it’s not a normal period – it’s menorrhagia.
- Lots of Leakages: When women experience periods heavier than usual, it will cause a lot of leakages. However, you need to note that just because you’re experiencing leakages, it doesn’t mean that you’re experiencing sudden heavy periods. Maybe your sanitary products are just not good enough.
- A Long Period: Normally, periods can last anywhere from three to seven days. If your periods are starting to last more than seven days, you’re probably experiencing excessive heavy bleeding.
- Heavy Blood Clots: Blood clots are a relatively normal occurrence during periods. However, if your blood clots are as large as a quarter or larger, then your period is definitely heavier than normal.
- Symptoms of Anemia: Anemia is a medical condition that occurs when your blood lacks red blood cells and thins out. And it can easily cause heavier periods. Some common symptoms of anemia are heart palpitations, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
- A Pool of Blood Discharge: Women usually lose less than 16 teaspoons of blood during one period cycle. The average is only 6-8 teaspoons. If you experience more blood discharge than 16 teaspoons over the course of your period, it indicates a sudden heavy period.
D] Diagnosis and Treatment For Menorrhagia
The doctor will start by examining your medical history and ask you several questions to get a clear idea about the symptoms of menorrhagia. To figure out the medical complications accurately, the doctor may perform physical tests and may also order you to go through several other tests like ultrasound, blood test, or Pap test.
Check out this blog to learn more about the diagnosis of heavy bleeding.
Once the diagnosis part is complete and the doctors figure out the causes of heavy menstrual bleeding, they might propose the following treatments:
1. Birth Control
When you take birth control pills, it changes the balance of hormones inside your body. This way, if the heavy bleeding was caused by any specific hormone changes, taking the birth control pills can solve it. Of course, you should always consult your doctor before taking this step to avoid any mishap.
Doctors can also prescribe medications that would help you put an end to excessive menstrual bleeding.
If you have fibroids or polyps in the uterus that are causing sudden heavy bleeding, you would need to go through surgery to completely remove them from your body. Once the operation is complete, it should put an end to the heavy bleeding.
4. Removing the Lining from the Uterus
Removing the lining from your uterus can also stop heavy periods. Doctors can do it in a number of different ways. The simplest way of doing it is known as dilation and curettage or D&C. This procedure removes the outermost layer of the lining of your uterus.
It usually stops the sudden heavy periods. However, some people might need to go through this procedure more than once.
5. Other Procedures
There are many other procedures, like endometrial resection and endometrial ablation, that can permanently destroy or remove the layers of lining from the uterus. After this procedure, the patient might experience light periods or no periods at all.
The patients who went through the endometrial ablation or resection are advised not to get pregnant afterward. And to do that, you still need to go use birth control. After all, these treatments never work as contraception.
In some extreme cases, you may need to go through a hysterectomy, which is a surgery that completely removes the uterus from your body. After the surgery is complete, you will never experience periods at all, let alone menorrhagia. However, you will never be able to get pregnant after the procedure, either.
Sudden heavy periods can occur because of hormone fluctuations, which can be pretty normal. Or it can happen because of the side effects of birth control pills. It can also be a result of long-term health conditions that you probably aren’t aware of.
So, if you’re experiencing heavy bleeding or cramps that make even your regular activities almost impossible, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
This way, you can figure out the underlying reasons for menorrhagia early on and go through the appropriate treatments to fix them soon.
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