Periods can be nerve-wrecking for women sometimes! Whether they come early or late, and even whether they are scanty or heavy, an inconsistent menstrual cycle can put a woman into a spiral of negative thoughts. But believe it or not, these period problems are more common than you think. Women should watch out for heavy periods, which may indicate underlying health problems as well as lead to issues such as anaemia.
According to Dr Archana Chandak, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Apollo Clinic, Nigdi, Pune, heavy menstrual bleeding or menorrhagia involves loss of menstrual blood greater than 60-80 ml per cycle. Citing statistics, she says that over 60 percent of women in India might need medical help or consultation at some point in their lives due to heavy periods. Women, especially in the age group of 30-50 years, are the most prone to this condition.
Given how this can even cause anaemia, a blood condition that pertains to iron deficiency, it is important to understand the causes of heavy periods. Women also need to know how to take care of their menstrual health if they have this condition.
Causes of heavy periods or menorrhagia
1. Hormone imbalance
There are several conditions that cause hormone imbalances. This includes polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), obesity, insulin resistance and thyroid problems.
Heavy or prolonged bleeding may also be caused due to small, benign growths on the lining of the uterus. These are called uterine polyps.
3. Dysfunction of the ovaries
If the ovaries don’t release an egg (ovulate) during a menstrual cycle (anovulation), it doesn’t produce the hormone progesterone, as it would during a normal menstrual cycle. This can thereby cause hormone imbalance and lead to menorrhagia.
When glands from the endometrium become embedded in the uterine muscle, it causes adenomyosis. This also often leads to heavy bleeding and painful periods.
5. Uterine fibroids
Noncancerous (benign) tumours of the uterus appear during a woman’s childbearing years and can lead to heavier or prolonged menstrual bleeding.
6. Intrauterine device (IUD)
Non-hormonal intrauterine device, that is utilized for birth control, is known to cause side effects like menorrhagia. So, doctors would recommend alternative birth control options.
7. Pregnancy complications
Miscarriage can lead to a single, heavy and late period. Heavy bleeding during pregnancy can also be caused due to an unusual location of the placenta, such as a low-lying placenta or placenta previa.
Excessive menstrual bleeding can be caused by uterine cancer and cervical cancer. This can especially occur if women are postmenopausal or have had an abnormal Pap test in the past.
9. Inherited bleeding disorders
Bleeding disorders such as Von Willebrand’s disease is a condition in which an important blood-clotting factor is deficient or impaired. This disorder also leads to abnormal menstrual bleeding.
Anti-inflammatory medications, hormonal medications like estrogen and progestins, and anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) or enoxaparin (Lovenox), can contribute to heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding.
11. Other medical conditions
Medical conditions such as liver or kidney disease can be associated with menorrhagia.
Also read: Click here to know how obesity can affect your periods
Treatment for heavy periods
Doctors usually treat the primary causes of such conditions either medically or surgically if necessary. You can manage a heavy period flow with these tips. But patients who have such conditions are also recommended iron supplements to ensure their physical state is fit.
If heavy bleeding has led to iron deficiency, doctors also check on the level of deficiency. Depending on that, iron supplements are either given orally or parentally either through intramuscular or intravenous methods. Doctors only recommend such women to go for surgeries to treat menorrhagia if their iron levels are sufficient.