In a normal menstrual period, a woman passes about an ounce of blood. In a woman with heavy periods, or menorrhagia, more than three ounces of blood are passed. Of course, there's no practical way to tell if you're passing more than three ounces of blood, so a better way to define a heavy period is one in which:
you need to use tampons and pads together to help control the flow of blood
you pass clots
you must change your pad or tampon or both every couple of hours or more frequently to avoid leakage
your period lasts more than seven days.
Many women with menorrhagia must get up many times during the night to change their protection, and fatigue and anemia are also common side effects of severe menorrhagia.
Heavy menstrual bleeding occurs most commonly as a result of hormonal changes such as those that occur during menopause or, in some cases, adolescence. But it can also be caused by:
issues with an IUD
pelvic inflammatory disease
cancer of the uterus, ovaries or cervix
use of blood thinners including a daily aspirin regimen
kidney, thyroid or liver disease
adenomyosis, a condition in which the glands of the uterine lining become embedded in the wall of the uterus
Treatments for menorrhagia vary based on the underlying cause, and can include:
medication to decrease the amount of blood loss
minimally-invasive procedures to eliminate the uterine lining or remove fibroids
In severe cases of menorrhagia, you may be prescribed iron supplements to prevent anemia.
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