Your period can be problematic. You may get it at an inopportune time (hello, beach vacation?), or you get cramps or backaches. Maybe you break out when it’s that time of the month. But one of the most common menstrual cycle complaints is heavy and prolonged bleeding.
The medical term for a heavy period is menorrhagia, and it affects about 30% of premenopausal women, which is 18 million women worldwide. A heavy period is one that lasts more than seven days or one where the flow is very heavy. When you need to change your tampon or pad every hour, or you notice quarter-sized blood clots in the toilet, that is considered a heavy flow.
Not only can this type of heavy bleeding create problems in your daily life, but it can also signal the sign of a health condition such as a bleeding disorder or uterine cancer. Many women live with the inconvenience and don’t report their abnormally heavy menstrual cycle to their doctor. But you should.
At the Center for Women’s Health in Wichita, we can help find the cause of your abnormally heavy bleeding and develop a customized treatment plan, which may include endometrial ablation.
What causes heavy periods?
Many things can cause heavy periods, some of which include:
- Irregular ovulation
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Certain medication such as blood thinners and aspirin
- Certain cancers
Severe bleeding can be more than disruptive. It can lead to anemia, which can raise your risk of heart problems.
Depending on the cause of your heavy bleeding and your plans for building a family, options for treatment may include:
- A hysterectomy
- Endometrial ablation
If you plan on having a baby, a hysterectomy and endometrial ablation are not options, but if you are sure you don’t plan to have any children, or any more children, endometrial ablation might work for you.
What is endometrial ablation?
A hysterectomy used to be the only option for women who had severe heavy bleeding and didn’t respond to other less invasive treatments. But now, fortunately, there is a safe and effective minimally invasive procedure.
Endometrial ablation is an in-office procedure that doesn’t involve hormones, large incisions, or a long recovery. For women who don’t plan to have children in the future, endometrial ablation has a high success rate in reducing the flow of your period or eliminating it.
During the procedure, your endometrium lining is eliminated or ablated. This lining is the blood and tissue in your uterus that thickens every month in preparation for a fertilized egg and, subsequently, breaks down and turns into your menstrual bleeding when there isn’t an embryo to cushion.
While you can still get pregnant since your uterus is intact, the absence of the endometrium lining makes it unlikely. But you still need to use some form of birth control after the procedure. With the destruction of your endometrial lining, your heavy periods will be reduced or eliminated.
If you experience heavy periods, call us at the Center for Women’s Health or make an appointment using our online tool to learn about endometrial ablation and other treatment options.