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Welcome Aunt Flo

Are you tired of dealing with heavy menstrual bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, and a monthly period that has gone from five days to 12 or more?  Many women are suffering in silence for no reason. The first step is scheduling your annual gynecologic visit. Typically, how you describe your heavy period matters, and it can affect your overall health.  If you suffer from heavy periods, there are effective treatment options.

Do:

  • You find yourself needing to change your sanitary products every hour.
  • You carry around an extra set of clothes just in case.
  • You search on-line before going out to locate the bathrooms.
  • You have a well-rehearsed list of excuses for cancelling plans.

 

Causes of Menorrhagia

  • Fibroids: These benign (noncancerous) tumors of the uterus typically appear during your childbearing years.
  • Polyps:  Benign growths on the lining of the inside of the uterine wall.
  • Adenomyosis: This condition occurs when glands from the endometrium become embedded in the uterine muscle, often causing heavy bleeding and painful periods.
  • Cancer:  Some cancers, such as uterine, ovarian and cervical, can lead to excessive menstrual bleeding.
  • Medications:  Certain drugs, including blood thinners, can contribute to heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Improper use of hormone medications also can cause menorrhagia.
  • Other Medical Conditions: Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), thyroid problems and liver or kidney disease may be associated with menorrhagia.
  • Inherited Bleeding Disorders: Some blood coagulation disorders — such as von Willebrand’s disease, a condition in which an important blood-clotting factor is deficient or impaired — can cause abnormal menstrual bleeding. This is typically diagnosed in teenagers.

 

Treating Menorrhagia

Treatment depends on several factors, including the underlying cause, patients’ preferences and the need to prevent pregnancy or desire to have children. There are nonsurgical and surgical options. For women who have polyps or fibroids, surgery to remove the growth can reduce or end heavy bleeding.

  • Hormonal Birth Control: Hormonal methods of birth control reduce bleeding during your menstrual period. It might take three months for bleeding to improve after you start taking hormonal birth control.
  • Antifibrinolytic Medicines:  These medicines work by helping to decrease the amount of bleeding during your monthly period. One option is tranexamic acid (Lysteda).  These medications slow bleeding quickly, usually within two to three hours. You only take them when on your period, and you can try to conceive while taking them.
  • Myomectomy:  A surgical procedure where fibroids are removed from of the uterus.
  • Uterine Artery Embolization: A radiologic procedure where the blood supply to the fibroids or the entire uterus is blocked to shrink fibroids or help decrease heavy periods.
  • Dilation and Curettage: A surgical procedure used to diagnose the cause of heavy period and also remove thickened endometrial tissue or polyps.
  • Endometrial Ablation: An outpatient  procedure that heats the lining of the uterus. This can reduce heavy menstrual bleeding or cause you to stop having monthly periods. It is important to note that this is not an option for women who want to become pregnant.
  • Hysterectomy: Surgery that removes the uterus. This is a permanent treatment option that cures heavy menstrual bleeding. However, surgery can have complications and may require up to six weeks for full recovery.

If you are suffering from heavy periods, do not ignore the signs. Be bold and make an appointment with your medical professional. Take the first step to returning to normal periods and living life to the fullest. Put yourself first!

Gem Ashby, MD, and Kristen Segall, MD, are part of Women’s Care of Florida and see patients at locations in Carrollwood, Wesley Chapel and the USF area. To schedule a visit, visit www.wcf.me or call (813) 929-7377. 

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