Pin Me

The Causes of and Treatment Options for Excessive Menstrual Bleeding

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: BStone • updated: 1/20/2011

Women may experience excessive menstrual bleeding due to a hormonal imbalance in the body, medical conditions that affect the uterus and ovaries, side effects from certain medications, or post-pregnancy issues. Treatments for this type of excessive bleeding include prescription drugs and surgery.

  • slide 1 of 5

    When Menstrual Bleeding Is Excessive

    Excessive menstrual bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, is a condition that can cause distress for a woman who is having her period. In addition to the inconvenience of needing to change tampons and sanitary pads on a very frequent basis, women who have this condition may find themselves dealing with related health problems. Heavy menstrual flow may stem from several distinct causes, and depending on the severity of the cause and the amount of blood shed during each cycle, can be treated with medicines or surgery.

  • slide 2 of 5

    Common Causes

    Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding that involves the passing of blood clots and symptoms of pain and fatigue may occur in women with the following issues:

    Medical conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, cancer (of the uterus, ovaries, or cervix), blood clotting disorders, and adenomyosis (embedding of endometrium glands into the uterus) are known contributors to excessive menstrual flow.

    Complications from an ectopic pregnancy. When an egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube rather than the uterus, it can result in prolonged or heavy blood loss. Excessive shedding of uterine tissue also frequently affects women who are having a miscarriage.

    Uterine growths such as fibroids (benign tumors) and polyps that develop in the lining of the uterus are common causes of heavy periods in women who are of childbearing age.

    Hormonal imbalances, through which the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body are atypical, can result in the formation of large amounts of endometrium tissue. This extra tissue is then shed from the body during menstruation.

    Use of medications or an intrauterine device (IUD) can also be factors of menorrhagia. Women who take anti-coagulant or hormone medications may struggle with heavy periods, as may women who have a non-hormonal IUD implanted to prevent pregnancy.

  • slide 3 of 5

    Available Treatment Methods

    Treatment methods for heavy menstrual bleeding are recommended by medical professionals in accordance with a woman's health history, current diagnosis, and lifestyle. Possible treatment options for women with this condition are available in several forms.

    Prescribed medications such as oral contraceptives, ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs, and oral progesterone can all help to regulate significant or prolonged menstrual blood loss. A prescribed hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) that thins the uterine lining may also be effective for some women.

    Outpatient surgical treatments such as a dilation and curettage (scraping of tissue from the uterine lining), endometrial resection (removal of uterine lining with an electrosurgical wire), and endometrial ablation (another procedure that removes uterine tissue) are options for women with excessive bleeding who are not candidates for drug treatment.

    A hysterectomy, in which the cervix, uterus, and sometimes the ovaries are removed, is a major surgery that results in menstrual periods stopping entirely. This procedure is typically performed when heavy menstrual flow is a symptom of a serious condition such as cancer.

  • slide 4 of 5

    Additional Information

    Natural remedies for excessive menstrual bleeding, such as herbal supplements and vitamins, can be used as an alternative to or in conjunction with some of the medications described above. Women who wish to explore both natural and medical solutions to heavy bleeding during a period should consult a physician for information on drug interactions and side effects. Other steps that women can take to alleviate menorrhagia include avoiding aspirin and getting adequate rest.

  • slide 5 of 5

    References

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/menorrhagia/DS00394

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003263.htm

    http://women.webmd.com/tc/abnormal-vaginal-bleeding-topic-overview