Many women experience heavier flow days, but when those days become a regular occurrence, it could turn monthly menstruation into a hassle. Constantly changing tampons and pads or worrying about leaks can take away from daily life. However, our gynecologists and women’s health professionals at Amy Brenner, MD & Associates can help!
Learning how to manage heavy periods may take a little trial and error to find the best solution for you. While some women find success with at-home methods and medications, others may require medical procedures. As always, the choice is up to you!
Why is my period so heavy?
We understand the frustration of trying to understand why you are having heavy periods (also known as menorrhagia), especially since there’s no singular reason. A woman’s body is complex, and the reproductive system is no different.
First, let’s take a step back to understand how your period works.
Your period is part of your menstrual cycle that begins around adolescence and ends with menopause. For most women, this cycle lasts about 28 days, but a healthy range lies between 24 to 38 days (so don’t worry if yours is a little shorter or longer!).
Menstruation marks day 1 of your cycle when the body sheds the monthly buildup lining your uterus originally meant for a fertilized egg. The lining made from blood, tissue, and other substances flows from your uterus, through your cervix, then out of your vagina.
Determining whether you have a heavy flow isn’t always a straight answer. A heavy flow to one person may be completely different from another. On average, women lose about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood throughout their period. However, you’re probably not going to actually measure that yourself. Instead, you can look out for symptoms like:
- Period lasting for more than seven days
- Having to change your pad/tampon every couple of hours
- Doubling pads to avoid leaks
- Dealing with frequent leaks
- Inability to go through the night without changing pad or tampon
- Passing quarter-sized (or larger) blood clots
- Constant cramping
- Excess fatigue or shortness of breath
- Periods negatively affecting daily life
Heavy bleeding is a multifaceted issue that can come from a variety of sources. Instead of self-diagnosing, you should always visit a qualified physician to help you determine what’s causing your menorrhagia. With that said, here are a few common reasons behind heavy periods.
Life changes: Lifestyle changes could affect how heavy your period becomes. For example, it’s common for women to experience heavier flows after childbirth or as the body moves toward menopause.
Medications: Certain medications could impact your period. Women who take blood thinners may notice they have to change their tampons or pads more often. Also, changes in birth control can also play a role.
Hormones: Since your period relies on the natural ebb and flow of hormones, an imbalance could throw things out of whack. When your body produces too much or too little estrogen and progesterone, it can lead to a thicker uterine lining.
Genetics: Before you assume you have an underlying condition, speak to a close relative if you can. If people like your mother, aunt, and grandmother had heavy periods, then you are likely to get them too.
Uterine fibroids or other benign growths: Noncancerous growths in your uterus can affect the size of your uterus. Depending on the size, you may need to surgically remove your fibroids to treat your menorrhagia.
Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a common medical condition that thickens the uterine lining and causes uterine polyps. As a result, women with endometriosis often experience painful, heavy periods.
Easy & effective ways to manage heavy periods
There are a variety of methods that can help you figure out how to manage a heavy period. Since no two women are exactly the same, you shouldn’t expect the treatment your friend uses to work for you (though it might!). For the best results, we highly recommend working closely with a physician to find the best menorrhagia treatment options for your lifestyle and budget.
Focus on your diet
What you eat has a tremendous impact on a lot of your bodily functions. While diet alone typically won’t erase your heavy periods, it can help them become more bearable.. Eating foods rich in iron and vitamin C (aids with iron absorption) may decrease the risk of iron deficiency that could come from blood loss. As a result, it could help alleviate symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and more.
🥬 Foods rich in iron:
- Mussels & oysters
🍊 Foods rich in vitamin C:
- Oranges & other citrus fruits
- Brussels sprouts
NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen not only help with period cramps, they can also help minimize bleeding by reducing the amount of prostaglandin in your body. Prostaglandins are the hormone-like substances that can cause heavy bleeding and pain during menstruation.
Before you use NSAIDs as your preferred treatment method, it is important to speak to your doctor. Taking too many pills could cause stomach ulcers, heartburn, nausea, and other unwanted effects. You also shouldn’t take over-the-counter NSAIDs if you’re on blood thinners or prescription NSAIDs.
If you discover you have a hormonal balance, managing heavy periods could be as easy as getting hormone therapy. Specifically, progesterone changes the structure of the endometrium (the mucous layer that lines the uterus). While progesterone pills can help thin the lining, you could also choose bio-identical hormone therapy.
Bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT) is a natural approach to traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help ease symptoms that come from hormonal imbalances. Unlike HRT, bio-identical hormones are molecularly identical to the hormones your body produces, and your body can’t tell the difference between the two.
Bio-identical hormones are used to replenish estrogen (especially estradiols that decrease after menopause), progesterone, and testosterone. Doctors can determine a proper dosage based on your symptoms along with a blood, urine, or saliva test.
Depending on your specific needs and what you feel most comfortable with, you can receive bio-identical hormone therapy via creams, hormone pellet therapy, or injections.
Novasure endometrial ablation
NovaSure endometrial ablation (the FDA-approved device used at Amy Brenner, MD & Associates), is a safe, quick procedure that removes the inner layer of the uterine wall (endometrium).
How does the endometrium affect my period flow?
During the menstrual cycle, an increase in estrogen levels causes the endometrium to thicken. This inner lining is made up of blood and nutrients to nourish an embryo after fertilization. After ovulation, the ovary releases the hormone progesterone, which further thickens the endometrium. However, when pregnancy doesn’t occur, it breaks down and leaves the body—hence the period.
Understanding how endometrial ablation works is pretty straightforward. The procedure uses radiofrequency energy to heat and ablate the tissue. With endometrial removal, most women never have periods, or the periods they get are much lighter and shorter.
💡Important note: Do not undergo an endometrial ablation procedure if you plan on having children, since it greatly reduces pregnancy chances. In the rare chance that a woman gets pregnant after endometrial ablation, it would be a high-risk pregnancy that could negatively affect both mother and child. Therefore, it’s still important to use contraception or get a sterilization procedure.
MyFlow® at Amy Brenner, MD & Associates
At Amy Brenner, MD & Associates, we take time with each patient to ensure our MyFlow® endometrial ablation procedure is as effective as possible. Before your ablation treatment, we will numb the area based on your choice of a local anesthetic (you will stay awake) or an IV sedation (you will be asleep).
At the start of our NovaSure procedure, we will insert a wand inside your vagina that releases a net-like expandable frame into the uterus. Through the net, radiofrequency energy hits the endometrium with quick pulses for 90 seconds. The energy then heats and ablates the tissue. After the quick, one time session (you won’t have to come back!), you should be able to return to normal daily activities without heavy downtime.
After your endometrial ablation treatment, you may experience some light cramping that feels like menstrual cramps. You may also notice some discharge that appears similar to your period. During this time, we ask that you avoid tampons for at least a week to avoid infections.
Learn more about how to manage heavy periods with Amy Brenner, MD & Associates
Our women’s health experts and gynecologists provide the best endometrial ablation and other treatments to help manage heavy periods. With our vast array of sexual wellness procedures, we can not only ease discomfort but also help you reach your goals.
We’re here to offer a warm, friendly environment while providing the highest quality surgical procedures and aesthetic treatments to help you look great and feel great. No matter what, we will stick with you throughout your entire journey, because your goals are our goals.
Get started today by using our virtual consultation tool or scheduling an appointment.