Every month it’s the same – you experience a heavy flow and unrelenting pain that disrupts your life. What should you do?
When you tell your girl friends about your period woes, they can’t relate. Their periods are tame. Your menstrual cycle, however, is catastrophic. The good news is that you’re not alone: Heavy menstrual bleeding is common and treatable.
In fact, one in 10 women are diagnosed with menorrhagia – a condition resulting in heavy bleeding and caused by thyroid issues, pelvic infection, hormone changes or possible noncancerous tumors (fibroids) that develop in your uterus.
How Much Is Too Much?
You decide to track how often you change your tampon or pad and realize you’re switching out soaked-through feminine products every hour for up to six hours. At night, you wake up panicked, switching products to avoid ruining another pair of sheets. Sometimes you even notice large blood clots and your period extends over seven days or more.
If this story resembles your own – and you’re tired of letting your menstrual cycle take over your life – it’s time to sit down with your gynecologist and come up with a treatment plan.
What to Expect at Your Doctor’s Visit
After asking questions about your flow frequency, health history, method of birth control and list of current medications, your gynecologist will conduct a pelvic exam, along with other diagnostic tests, possibly including an ultrasound, a hysteroscopy (to look inside your uterus with a lighted scope) and possibly a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) to study what is going on inside your body.
Help Is Here
Beyond taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen for pain and yoga sessions to relax, you have other options, including:
- Hormonal tablets: The hormone progesterone can help reduce your blood flow by not allowing the uterine lining to grow.
- Hormone-free tablets: Tranexamic acid helps stop blood clots from breaking down, so it can reduce a heavy flow.
- Birth control pills or implanted coils: Both of these options work to release progestin, a hormone that helps your body reduce blood loss.
If these options do not prove helpful, your gynecologist may recommend certain procedures, depending on what’s causing the problem. For instance, you may be treated for fibroids or have them surgically removed.
Need help with your heavy flow? Gynecologists Elyse Brock, MD, and Sara Castellanos, DO, specialize in women's health. Visit our Physician Finder for appointment information.