Heavy Menstrual Bleeding/Painful Periods

Menorrhagia, or heavy menstrual bleeding, is a condition affecting nearly a quarter of the female population. Heavy menstrual bleeding is a common concern, but most women do not experience severe enough blood loss to be defined as menorrhagia.

Menorrhagia is also associated with painful periods. Heavy menstrual bleeding is often combined with passing large clots and severe cramping, causing long, painful periods. Some signs and symptoms of menorrhagia include:

  • Soaking through one or more pads or tampons every hour for several hours
  • Bleeding heavily for longer than a week
  • Passing blood clots larger than a quarter
  • Showing symptoms of anemia (low iron) due to blood loss
  • Restricting daily activities due to heavy flow
  • Waking up to change pads or tampons in the middle of the night

There are many conditions that may cause menorrhagia, though sometimes the cause remains unknown. Some common causes include:

  • Hormone imbalance
    • In a normal menstrual cycle, the hormone estrogen regulates how much lining the uterus can build up, which is shed during menstruation. If there is a hormone imbalance caused by polycystic ovary syndrome, obesity, thyroid problems, or other illnesses, the lining can build up excessively and cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Fibroids
    • These noncancerous tumors can cause heavier than normal or prolonged bleeding. Treatment for fibroids such as hormone therapies can lessen the duration and severity of menstrual periods.
  • Inherited bleeding disorders
    • In some instances, the condition of the reproductive system actually has nothing to do with the cause of heavy menstrual bleeding. Some blood clotting disorders, such as von Willebrand’s disease, can cause heavy menstrual bleeding. Talk to your doctor about managing your blood clotting disorder to help control your heavy menstrual bleeding.
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woman suffering from painful periods