If you are like most women, there is a good chance that at some point or another, you will experience heavy or abnormal uterine bleeding. Although heavy or abnormal bleeding is considered normal during your menstrual cycle for the first few years as well as the last few years of your reproductive years. However, there are times that heavy or abnormal uterine bleeding is an indication of a much larger, graver problem. If you have a tendency to experience heavy or abnormal bleeding or you suspect that you do, at any point during your menstrual cycle, please read on the learn more about the potential causes of heavy or abnormal bleeding and what you can do about it. If you are currently experiencing heavy or abnormal bleeding, please contact a healthcare professional right away.
Â What is Heavy or Abnormal Bleeding?
On a very basic level, heavy or abnormal bleeding can be considered any type of uterine bleeding that deviates from the usual uterine bleeding that occurs during an individualâ€™s menstrual cycle. In technical terms, heavy or abnormal bleeding is mainly defined as any bleeding that necessitates the changing of pads or tampons every one to two hours and/or any bleeding that lasts for seven or more consecutive days. In some cases â€œabnormalâ€ bleeding can refer to the absence of a period during menstrual cycles.
Although the most common definitions of heavy or abnormal bleeding tends to be defined by abnormalities in the amount of bleeding as well as the length of time continuous bleeding occurs, they can also involve any of the following irregularities:
- Bleeding or spotting between regular periods
- Spotting that occurs at any point during the menstrual cycle
- Bleeding or spotting after sex
- The appearance of blood clots wider than 1 inch in diameter
- Pain or abnormal discomfort during any point of the menstrual cycle
Â What causes Heavy or Abnormal Bleeding?
There are many potential causes for heavy or abnormal bleeding:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Tumors (both benign and cancerous)
- Auto-immune disorders such as Lupus
- Cervical polyps or endometrial polyps
- Drastic fluctuations in weight or stress levels
- Pregnancy or Miscarriage
Abnormally heavy menstruation, known as menorrhagia, is most often caused by an imbalance of hormones. An imbalance of hormones may cause the ovaries to not release an egg during the menstrual cycle, resulting in a period that may be heavier and more abnormal than usual. Another common cause of abnormal, heavy menstruation is the development of fibroid tumors. Most fibroid tumors are benign, however, and tend to naturally disappear after a woman has gone through menopause. In rare cases, birth control devices, such as the intrauterine device (IUD) may be the cause of any abnormal or heavy bleeding.
Â What treatments are available for Heavy or Abnormal Bleeding?
In order to determine what is causing heavy or abnormal bleeding, a pelvic exam, a Pap smear, and any necessary lab tests will be performed; in some cases, an ultrasound will be used to determine whether or not tumors of polyps are the source of the heavy or abnormal bleeding.
As long as the cause isnâ€™t a serious, underlying condition, disease, or illness, a round of treatment involving progesterone, and sometimes estrogen, both given in the form of an oral contraceptive, is all that is needed to regulate the menstrual cycle. Women how keep on experiencing bouts of heavy or abnormal bleeding may need their menstrual cycles regulated through iron supplements, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, or other types of oral contraceptives. If the heavy or abnormal bleeding was caused by a birth control device, such as an IUD, it should be immediately taken out; there are hormonal IUDs that can be used in place of regular IUDs.
In extreme cases, surgical treatments may be needed to put a stop to any heavy or abnormal bleeding. Surgical procedures such as Dilation and Curettage (D&C), Operative Hysteroscopy, and Endometrial Ablation are all common surgical procedures that are employed to bring about a stoppage to heavy or abnormal bleeding.
Â When should you go see a doctor about Heavy or Abnormal Bleeding?
Typically, heavy or abnormal bleeding is temporary and is quite often caused by a simple hormonal imbalance brought on by stress or other factors and should not be a cause for alarm. You do not necessarily need to visit your gynecologist or healthcare professional unless the heavy or abnormal bleeding lasts for more than a week or has you changing pads or tampons every two hours or less. You should also seek medical care and help if your heavy or abnormal bleeding begins to impact your everyday life, if there is any unusual pain or discomfort, if you bleed or spot after having sex, or if any bleeding or spotting occurs during a pregnancy.
At Complete Healthcare for Women, we strive to make sure that each patient receives personalized, comprehensive care. If you have experienced heavy or abnormal bleeding in the past and would like to know how to prevent such heavy or abnormal bleeding, or if you are currently experiencing abnormal or heavy bleeding, please call us at 614.882.4343 to set up an appointment to find out what you can do about your heavy or abnormal bleeding. Same day appointments are available!