For some women periods are a minor inconvenience, but for others, they’re an immense challenge that affects their daily life. Abnormally heavy periods are a reality for some women, and it’s important to know that it isn’t normal.
At Cornforth Gynecology and MedSpa, San Antonio, Texas, board-certified OB/GYN Katherine Cornforth, MD urges women dealing with heavy periods to seek treatment. Heavy periods are not only distressing, they can cause problems like iron deficiency.
Read on for answers to your questions about heavy periods — including effective treatment options.
Because flow varies from woman to woman, it’s crucial to know what is considered an abnormally heavy period. Women with heavy periods bleed enough to soak through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours. Needing to wake up during the night to change pads or tampons is another indicator of heavy periods.
Here are some other signs to look out for:
If you're experiencing these symptoms, schedule a visit with Dr. Cornforth to discuss your symptoms.
Hormonal imbalance is one of the most common causes of heavy periods. Two hormones — estrogen and progesterone — regulate the build-up of the uterus lining, which is shed during menstruation. If these hormones are imbalanced, the lining can become thick, leading to heavier periods.
Structural issues within the uterus can also lead to heavy periods. These include noncancerous growths, such as fibroids and polyps, that develop in the uterus. Fibroids are quite common and can vary greatly in size, from as small as an apple seed to as large as a grapefruit. While not usually dangerous, they can cause heavy or prolonged periods.
Similarly, polyps, small, bulb-shaped growths on the uterine lining, can lead to heavier-than-normal bleeding. Other structural issues contributing to heavy bleeding include having an abnormally shaped uterus and adenomyosis, where endometrial glands embed into the uterine muscle. Certain medical conditions, like pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, and certain bleeding disorders, can also cause heavy periods.
The team at Cornforth Gynecology wants to emphasize that heavy bleeding is not a condition to just “live with." It's a medical issue that can be treated effectively and one that you should feel comfortable discussing with a health care provider.
When hormonal imbalance is the root cause, hormonal contraceptives are often the first line of treatment. These regulate the hormones responsible for your menstrual cycle, which can help reduce bleeding and pain. Another hormone-based treatment is a medication called tranexamic acid, which helps the blood in the uterus clot to reduce heavy bleeding.
Surgical procedures may be necessary for those with uterine fibroids or polyps contributing to heavy periods. Hysteroscopic removal of polyps or fibroids is one common procedure involving using a small camera and instruments to remove these growths from inside the uterus. More severe cases might require a myomectomy, a surgery to remove larger fibroids while leaving the uterus intact.
In cases where hormonal treatments and surgical options are not ideal or effective, other methods might be recommended. One such option is endometrial ablation, a procedure that removes the lining of the uterus to reduce or stop menstrual flow. This procedure is generally recommended for women who do not wish to have more children, as pregnancy after endometrial ablation can be risky.
Treatments can significantly improve your quality of life if you’re dealing with heavy menstruation. Our team of experienced and compassionate health care professionals is here to support and guide you toward the most appropriate treatment options.
Reach out to your health care provider, or contact us at Cornforth Gynecology. Call our San Antonio, Texas office at 210-538-8660, to schedule a visit with Dr. Cornforth today. Your health is our top priority!