Menorrhagia

What is menorrhagia?

Menorrhagia is heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. It can be
related to a number of conditions including problems with the uterus, hormone problems,
or other conditions. While heavy bleeding can make it tough to take part in normal daily
life at times, there are treatments to help.

What causes menorrhagia?

During your menstrual cycle, if an egg is not fertilized, the uterine lining breaks down, and bleeds. The egg and the uterine lining are then shed during your period.

Hormone problems or conditions that affect the uterus can result in heavy bleeding. Other diseases or bleeding disorders can also cause it.

Hormone problems include:

  • Imbalance of estrogen and progesterone or other hormones

Problems with the uterus include:

  • Fibroids (non cancerous)
  • Cancer
  • Pregnancy problems (such as a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy)
  • Use of an intrauterine device (IUD)

Other conditions such as thyroid,
kidney or liver disease, cancer, or bleeding disorders can also cause heavy
bleeding.

What are the symptoms of menorrhagia?

If you have to change your pad or
tampon every 1 to 2 hours because it’s soaked, or bleed longer than 7 days, see your
healthcare provider. Spotting or bleeding between periods is also a sign of a
problem.

The symptoms of menorrhagia may
look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for
a diagnosis.

How is menorrhagia diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask you about your medical history and about your periods. You will also have a physical exam including a pelvic exam. You may be asked to keep track of your periods and how many pads or tampons you use for a few months if you haven’t already done so.

  • Blood tests. These check for anemia and test how fast your blood clots.
  • Pap test. For this test, cells are collected from the cervix and examined. It’s used to check for cancerous changes, infection, or inflammation.
  • Ultrasound. Using sound waves and a computer, your healthcare provider can check for fibroids or other problems inside the uterus.
  • Biopsy. Examining a tissue sample from the uterine lining can help your healthcare provider find cancer or other abnormal tissue.

Other tests include:

  • Hysteroscopy. Using a viewing instrument inserted through the vagina, your healthcare provider can see the cervix and the inside of the uterus.
  • Dilation and curettage (D&C).
    This procedure involves scraping and then examining the uterine cavity.