Menorrhagia is the medical term for heavy menstrual bleeding or prolonged bleeding. Although heavy menstrual flow is a common concern, most women do not experience blood loss severe enough to be classified as menorrhagia.
Menorrhagia impedes everyday activities when you are on your period because you have so much blood loss and cramping. This heavy bleeding can also lead to iron-deficient anaemia, a common health-related threat of menorrhagia. While most cases of anaemia can be treated with supplements, sometimes the bleeding is so severe that a woman’s entire blood volume drops, leading to shortness of breath, severe fatigue and heart palpitations that can lead to hospitalization.
Menorrhagia: Symptoms And Causes
Heavy Menstrual Bleeding or Menorrhagia symptoms and causes are many. Some common symptoms or signs of menorrhagia are:
- Having to change one or more period products every hour for several consecutive hours
- Needing double sanitary protection to control your menstrual flow
- Need to wake up at night to change menstrual hygiene products
- Bleeding for longer than a week
- Passing blood clots larger than a ten-rupee coin
- Daily activities getting hampered due to heavy flow
- Symptoms of anaemia include tiredness, fatigue or shortness of breath
Suppose you experience heavy menstrual bleeding that leads to you changing your period protection every hour for more than two hours or have bleeding between periods or irregular vaginal bleeding and any vaginal bleeding after your menopause. In that case, you should seek the help of a gynaecologist.
Causes of Menorrhagia
There are several conditions that can cause menorrhagia. Some common causes are:
- Hormone imbalance: In normal menstrual cycles, the balance between estrogen and progesterone regulates the buildup of the uterus lining (endometrium) that is shed during menses. Due to the occurrence of a hormone imbalance, the endometrium develops in excess and eventually sheds, leading to heavy bleeding. Hormonal blood tests reveal hormonal dysfunction.
- Uterine fibroids: These are non-cancerous growths or tumours in the uterus that get diagnosed on pelvic sonography.
- Polyps: Polyps are small, non-malignant growths on the uterus lining that may cause heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding.
- Adenomyosis: This condition occurs when the glands from the endometrium become embedded in the uterine muscle causing heavy bleeding and painful periods.
- Intrauterine device or IUD: Non-hormonal intrauterine devices can also cause menorrhagia.
- Cancer: Uterine cancer and cervical cancer can cause heavy vaginal bleeding, especially if the Pap test is abnormal.
Complications due to Menorrhagia
Menorrhagia is fairly easy to manage but if not treated in time can lead to other medical conditions:
Anaemia: Menorrhagia can cause anaemia by reducing the number of circulating red blood cells. Signs and symptoms include pale skin, weakness and fatigue.
Severe cramps: With heavy menstrual bleeding, you might also experience painful period cramps (dysmenorrhea).
Infections: frequent pelvic infections and dips in immunity