What is a heavy period?
The answer to this varies from person to person. Medically, there are specific volumes of blood that should be lost per month to classify as a heavy period (known as menorrhagia). Realistically, it is difficult to measure exact blood loss and so a heavy period is often classed as a period that interferes with normal living - for example periods that cause so much blood loss as to cause anaemia.
What causes heavy periods?
Often, there may be no specific cause. Occasionally, though, heavy periods may be caused by fibroids, endometriosis, the contraceptive coil, polyps, thyroid problems or pelvic infection. Cancer of the womb can also cause heavy bleeding, and so any such episodes should be reported to your doctor.
What tests may be needed for heavy periods?
Often, no tests are needed. Occasionally blood tests may be needed, or special scans (such as ultrasound) may be organised by the specialist. A hysteroscopy may also be performed, which allows the specialist to see into the womb by using a special telescope. If the specialist feels that the heavy periods could be caused by a problem in the abdomen, then a laparoscopy may be arranged - this is performed under general anaesthetic, and small cuts are made in the tummy skin; special telescopic cameras are passed into the abdomen so that the specialist can see any problems and even treat them.
How might heavy periods be treated?
If they are occurring at a relatively early age, such as in teenagers, then heavy periods may resolve on their own in time.
If the bleeding is caused by problems such as pelvic infection or thyroid problems, then treating this may help to resolve the heavy periods.
If other treatment is needed, then medication may be used. Whilst these may help greatly, side effects can be experienced; these vary between different medications and you should ask your specialist about side effects before starting any new treatments.
If a woman's family is complete then a more permanent solution may be wanted - the womb can be partially removed using either Laser or diathermy (endometrial ablation) or completely removed (hysterectomy).
Other SurgeryWise articles
You may also be interested to read our articles on hysterectomy, fibroids, uterus cancer or cervical cancer
The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding which procedure is right for you. Please also read our disclaimer