Don’t Suffer Each Month With Heavy Bleeding
SIOUX FALLS (April 1, 2013) - Women who experience heavy bleeding month after month may think they “just have to live with it” as a minor inconvenience, even though their period is actually a major interruption to their lifestyle.
“It’s not something women have to live with. Your life doesn’t have to be that way,” said Dr. Annie Siewert, OB/GYN specialist with Avera Medical Group Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Many women don’t know what “normal” menstrual bleeding is. “It’s hard to quantify,” Dr. Siewert said. “Heavy” bleeding is defined by more than 80 ml of fluid a month. “But who knows what that is,” she added.
So you might be experiencing heavy bleeding if you…
- Stay home from work or other activities because of your period
- Wear a tampon plus a full-size pad
- Need to change your feminine protection more often than every three hours
- Bring an extra change of clothes with you in case of an accident
- Pass clots larger than 1 cm in size
Heavy menstrual bleeding can get either better or worse with age, Dr. Siewert said, but don’t think you have to live with it just because you’re nearing the transition of menopause.
There are three major causes of heavy menstrual bleeding, including hormonal changes or problems, structural abnormalities, or cancer.
Hormonal problems may include irregular ovulation, or low thyroid counts. Structural problems include benign fibroid tumors or endometrial polyps. Both polyps and fibroids are fed by blood vessels which contribute to heavy bleeding. Adenomyosis is a condition in which glands grow abnormally in the lining of the uterus, causing heavy bleeding and pain. Rarely, heavy and irregular bleeding can be caused by uterine cancer.
Treatment depends on how seriously heavy bleeding is interfering with your lifestyle, and if other therapies have failed. Sometimes, the solution can be as easy as taking ibuprofen during the first few days of your period, which serves to constrict blood vessels – and at the same time reduce painful cramps. “It’s something easy that women can try,” Dr. Siewert said. Taking hormonal medications is another simple solution that helps many women.” A Mirena IUD is also used for therapeutic treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding, and is not permanent if women wish to have children.
NovaSure ablation is an office procedure which treats the uterine lining using radiofrequency energy. This procedure is only appropriate for women who are sure they don’t wish to have any more children. Some 50 percent of women who have this procedure don’t have periods anymore, and those who do have shorter, lighter, periods. “Among NovaSure patients, 98 percent report that they are happy they had the procedure,” Dr. Siewert added. No anesthesia is necessary; a local numbing medication and a mild sedative help make the procedure as comfortable as possible.
The most aggressive treatment for those women who don’t respond to other treatments is hysterectomy. While some women require an abdominal incision, the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques allow the cervix and uterus to be removed through the vagina. Robotic surgery is the most recent development, which allows for faster recovery and less pain than traditional surgical techniques.
“The important thing for women to remember is they don’t have to put up with heavy bleeding. Too many good treatment options are available,” Dr. Siewert said.
To learn more, go to www.AveraWomens.org