When it comes to periods, most women will experience unusually heavy bleeding every once in awhile. Although heavy menstrual bleeding is common among women, it isn't normal. Heavy bleeding and severe pelvic pain can not only disrupt your life, but may be a sign of a more serious health problem.
Abnormal bleeding is any of the following:
- Bleeding between periods
- Bleeding after sex
- Bleeding that soaks through one or more tampons or pads every hour for several hours in a row
- Needing to change pads or tampons during the night
- Bleeding after menopause
- Bleeding that lasts for more than 7 days
In this blog post, we discuss 5 reasons why you may be experiencing heavy bleeding during your period.
Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that grow within the uterus. They vary in size and may come with no symptoms whatsoever, although about 10% of women with heavy periods are known to have them.
There are three kinds of fibroids:
- Submucosal fibroids, which impinge on the uterine cavity, are the most likely to cause heavy periods
- Intramural fibroids, which grow in the uterine wall, also cause bleeding
- Subserosal fibroids grow on the outer surface of the uterus and don't usually cause bleeding
Treatment for uterine fibroids depends on your symptoms. Your provider will check during your annual exams to see if they have grown.
Heavy bleeding during your period can also signal endometriosis, a disease in which tissue from the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) grows on the outside. Endometrial tissue growth may also occur on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic lining, and in rare cases may affect pelvic organs and other internal organs.
Often mistaken for severe menstrual pain, endometriosis has distinct symptoms which include excessive bleeding, debilitating periods, pain during or after intercourse, infertility, fatigue, nausea, and more.
Diagnosing endometriosis begins with visiting an urogynecologist or a healthcare provider who has a specialty in female pelvic health and restoration.
3. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Various hormonal imbalances can lead women to ovulate irregularly, and when ovulation does happen (but pregnancy does not), the built-up lining comes out all at once during menstruation.
One possible cause of these imbalances is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which affects 6-10 percent of women. If your periods are both heavy and irregular and you also have abnormal body hair or a high BMI, you may want to get tested for PCOS.
4. A Bleeding Disorder
Heavy menstrual bleeding could be a sign of immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), which prevents blood from clotting properly. If you suffer from this condition, you may also experience easy bruising and nosebleeds.
A heavy period could also be a sign of Von Willebrand disease, which leads to abnormal platelets that prevent blood from clotting, especially if the heavy periods started when you were under 18. Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder in American women and is seen in between 5 and 24 percent of women with chronically heavy periods, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Blood tests can usually identify these disorders.
5. Certain IUDs
Many women are using a small intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control purposes. While most of these are effective in preventing pregnancy and have little to no side effects, there is a possibility that your IUD can make your periods heavier if it doesn't contain hormones. If you recently switched to an IUD for contraception and are experiencing heavy periods, speak to your provider about an alternative method.
Don't Let Heavy Periods Cramp Your Lifestyle
As a trusted and leading provider for obstetrics and gynecology, Metro OBGYN gives compassionate care across a wide selection of women’s health services, including abnormal uterine bleeding.
Don't let heavy bleeding or painful periods hold you back. Schedule an appointment today!