Many women experience heavy menstrual bleeding during their periods at various points in their life. Many of us take it as a given and choose to live with the symptom, without seeing any need to go to a doctor to see if anything can be done to lessen the bleeding. Is that safe? Or wise? Women’s fibroid stories often mention tales of embarrassment through episodes of bleeding through clothing in public. When does the bleeding cross the line from being annoying to becoming a medical issue?
“Menorrhagia is the medical word for heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Such bleeding can cause women to become anemic, sometimes requiring a blood transfusion. This condition may be associated with blood loss to the point that it interferes with daily activities. Women may feel tired and dizzy from their anemia. It is not uncommon that fibroids cause heavy bleeding.”
- Menstruation has reached a point where a doctor’s visit is recommended when:
- Bleeding lasts longer than 7 days
- Bleeding or spotting between periods continues for at least six months
- Periods arrive more frequently than once every 21 days
- Pads or tampons (even pads for heavy periods) need to be changed more frequently than every 2 hours
- Blood clots larger than 2.4 cm are passed
Why do fibroids cause such heavy bleeding?
There are a few theories as to why this happens, in connection to uterine fibroids. There is still research being done to prove the theory that has been proposed, stating that fibroids stimulate the growth of blood vessels in the surrounding tissue. Extra blood vessels would lead to heavier bleeding, irregular periods and potentially spotting at unexpected points in the menstrual cycle.
Women with fibroids also tend to have elevated levels of the hormones called prostaglandins and this can also be a factor toward heavy bleeding.
Additionally, the physical presence of the fibroids themselves may be creating functional complications that can lead to heavy bleeding. Depending on the location of the fibroid(s), [link to internal post explaining different placements of fibroids] they can put pressure on the uterine lining and/or not be allowing the uterus to contract properly. Both of these issues can cause increased bleeding.
Why is heavy bleeding so problematic?
When a woman loses a significant amount of blood on a regular basis, becoming anaemic is a real fear and danger. So not only does she need to manage a seemingly unending cycle of frequent changes of various tampons and pads (and combinations thereof) in order to avoid embarrassment in public, but she also has to keep on top of her iron levels via periodic blood tests. Fibroids and anemia often go hand in hand, but the human body was not designed to run properly on low levels of iron.
Fortunately, we have reached a point where – relative to even a decade ago – treatment options abound. The key is to be in tune with your body and give it the attention it deserves. YOU deserve to feel well. Toward that very basic goal, please be in touch with competent and trustworthy medical professionals to help monitor and treat heavy menstrual bleeding.