Heavy Periods (Menorrhagia)

  • Heavy Periods (Menorrhagia)

Heavy periods or menorrhagia is a common condition which, if left untreated, leads to increasing fatigue and lethargy, low reserves of energy, shortness of breath, pale skin and iron deficiency anaemia.

Causes can include:

  • Dysfunctional uterine bleeding, primarily affecting young women whose periods have only recently begun or women approaching menopause
  • Miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy
  • Hypothyroidism,  or an underactive thyroid
  • Use of certain IUDs, eg the copper coil
  • Polyps, or small growths from the lining of the uterus
  • Fibroids, or non-cancerous tumours on the muscle wall of the uterus
  • Endometriosis, or out-growths from the lining of the womb that may appear in various places such as on an ovary or a fallopian tube, or elsewhere
  • Pelvic infections, including thrush, chlamydia and others 
  • Blood disorders, including problems with clotting

Diagnosis

You need to see your doctor if you have had periods that have been irregular, more painful or heavier than usual for 4 months or longer.  Significant spotting or bleeding are also cause for a checkup.   Tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Pap smear
  • Swabs for infections
  • Ultrasound scan
  • Biopsy of the endometrium
  • Laparoscopy or Laparotomy (keyhole or bikini line surgery)
  • Colposcopy 

Treatment

Until recently the first line of treatment for heavy bleeding was often hysterectomy.  Now, it remains a final option in some cases but for most there are a number of other options available. These can include:

  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatories
  • Removal of IUDs
  • Antibiotics to treat infections
  • Prescribed medications that reduce bleeding
  • Polypectomy, or curette removal of polyps
  • Fibroid removal (an abdominal operation)
  • NovaSure - endometrial ablation procedure, more than 90% effective (click here for details)

If you are faced with the recommendation of a hysterectomy yet are reluctant to go down that path, you may wish to visit Dr Ferry first to consider other options.  One treatment that is often most helpful is endometrial ablation or removal of the lining of the womb.  It is very effective, involves no incision and is a day only procedure with minimal downtime.

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