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Menstrual periods are a normal part of a woman's life, but for one in five women, heavy periods can get in the way of a normal life. If you suffer from excessive menstrual bleeding, you may experience one or more of these symptoms:
  • Periods that last longer than 7 days
  • Severe pain or cramping
  • Flow that soaks through pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours
  • Flow that includes large blood clots
  • Heavy flow even while on birth control pills
  • Exhaustion and fatigue during your period
These symptoms can disrupt your life and keep you from your normal routine. Some of the causes of excessive menstrual bleeding include:

Hormonal Imbalance
Estrogen and progesterone are the hormones that regulate the thickening of the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus that is shed in each menstrual cycle. If the hormones are out of balance, the endometrium may become thicker than normal, resulting in a heavy period.

Fibroids
Fibroids are noncancerous growths in the uterus that can cause feelings of pressure and pain as well as heavy periods.

Polyps
Polyps are another form of noncancerous, fleshy growths on the uterine lining. They are unlike most colon polyps and more like skin tags. In addition to heavy periods, they may cause bleeding between periods and bleeding after menopause.

Endometriosis
In this disease, the endometrial tissue that normally makes up the lining of the uterus is found outside of the uterus, sometimes on the ovaries, bladder, bowel, or elsewhere in the lower abdomen. While some women with endometriosis have no symptoms, the disease can cause pain ranging from mild to severe, as well as infertility and heavy, painful periods.

Neoplasia
This condition is marked by the growth of new tissue and ranges from a simple thickening of the uterine lining to precancerous or cancerous growths.

Blood Clotting Disorders
Conditions such as von Willebrand's Disease prevent the blood from clotting properly, resulting in a heavier than normal flow.


Treatment for Excessive Menstrual Bleeding
Treatment for excessive menstrual bleeding ranges from drug therapy to surgical procedures, depending on the cause for the condition.

Drug Therapy
Oral contraceptives are often effective in treating excessive menstrual bleeding, as they regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce excessive or prolonged bleeding. For patients in which excessive menstrual bleeding is also causing anemia or low iron levels, an iron supplement may be recommended as well. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil or Motrin can also help reduce blood loss while relieving menstrual cramping.

Dilation & Curettage
In this procedure, often called a D & C, the cervix is dilated and the lining of the uterus is scraped with a spoon-shaped instrument. It's usually done on an outpatient basis and may be done with a local anesthetic, an epidural, or general anesthesia.

Endometrial Ablation
With endometrial ablation procedures, the uterine lining is destroyed by using heat or radio frequencies. Because endometrial ablation may cause sterility, it's not an option for women who want to become pregnant. These procedures are minimally invasive and done on an outpatient basis. Endometrial ablation can greatly reduce the menstrual flow or stop it altogether.

NovaSure®
NovaSure® is a method of endometrial ablation that uses radio frequency to destroy the uterine lining. In this procedure, a slender wand is inserted through the cervix into the uterus, where it expands into a triangular mesh device that expands to the size and shape of the uterus. The device then delivers a precisely measured radio frequency for about 90 seconds. The mesh is pulled back into the wand, which is removed from the uterus. This minimally invasive outpatient procedure greatly reduces or stops menstrual flow in over 90 percent of patients.
 

 

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