Heavy menstruation: what to do if you suffer from menorrhagia? Causes and remedies
If you have heavy and long periods you may suffer from menorrhagia. In fact, this term indicates a cycle disorder whose main symptom is an abundant, prolonged and decidedly excessive menstrual flow. It also frequently involves particularly strong abdominal pain and cramps and / or problems related to anemia, ranging from simple fatigue to breathing difficulties.
We can speak of menorrhagia if the menstruation lasts more than a week, if there are blood clots in the flow and you feel the need to change the sanitary napkin even once an hour or frequently during the night. In fact, if a normal cycle involves losses of about 30 ml, in the case of menorrhagia it can even reach 80 ml. Unfortunately, those who suffer from this problem experience a certain limitation in their everyday life.
Let's explore together the causes of this disorder, what to do if you discover that you suffer from it and what are the most effective remedies to fight it or learn to live with it.
The causes of a heavy menstrual flow
Menorrhagia can be caused by various factors, but in general it occurs when the uterus is unable to stop the loss of blood, that is, to guarantee haemostasis when the functional layer detaches from the mucosa. .
This problem can arise in the case of various organic pathologies of the genital area, such as the presence of adenomas, myomas, uterine polyps, fibroids, or it can be the indicator of more important diseases, from nephropathy to leukemia to hypertension. Endometriosis can also be seen. lead to accumulations of blood which then cause menorrhagia.
An abundant menstrual flow can also be caused by an "irritation of the mucosa due to the insertion into the vagina of foreign bodies (including contraceptives) or by taking the pill itself (especially if at a low dose), which could be rejected by the uterus. antidepressant or antipsychotic medications could result in abundant flow during the cycle.
Among the further causes of this disorder we can also mention a hyper-production of estrogen, which modifies the structure of the uterus causing the glands to increase in volume. Finally, stress problems should not be underestimated: in these cases it will only be episodes sporadic and you won't have to worry too much.
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Premenopausal or pregnant menorrhagia and metrorrhagia
Menorrhagia is one of the most frequent forms of cycle irregularities in premenopause: a woman who is approaching menopause, in fact, can have a very abundant and long flow, even 10 or 15 days. The reason is to be found in the endometrium which, in the absence of ovulation, will no longer be stabilized by progesterone, causing irregular blood loss.
If you are premenopausal, then, nothing to worry about! You can help yourself with these very suitable foods for PMS:
If, on the other hand, you are pregnant, at the beginning of your gestation, and you have abundant blood loss, similar to a real period, it could be the so-called "false menstruation" due to the implantation of the embryo in the uterus. Generally they do not cause problems, but they could also lead - in extreme cases - to an interruption, so better talk to your gynecologist right away. False menstruation, however, does not last more than 2-3 days.
Finally, it will be necessary to distinguish between menorrhagia and metrorrhagia, often confused: the second, in fact, consists of an abnormal bleeding outside of menstruation and can be of different entity, from simple spotting (a scarce bleeding) to a very abundant one, similar to that of menorrhagia.
What to do? Diagnosis and treatment
Before any treatment can be undertaken, it is necessary to understand what is causing the menorrhagia. It is therefore essential to consult a gynecologist. A thorough examination may be enough, or a biopsy or tests may be required to check the degree of anemia, thyroid hormone, or other hormones. In some cases you may need to have a curettage, a "pelvic and transvaginal ultrasound, a pap smear, or a" hysteroscopy.
If you are a young age, you may not need any treatment: your cycle should regularize itself. "You may be advised to take cycles of progesterone or the birth control pill to help you, but your doctor will have to evaluate the individual case.
The contraceptive pill could be the recommended solution even in older age: it contains the hormones capable of regulating the cycle and its abundance. It can also be replaced, if you prefer, by the use of a contraceptive patch, a ring or the intrauterine coil.
It can be useful, in case of very strong cramps that accompany the flow, to take anti-inflammatories, often able to reduce losses as well.
In severe cases, and if drug therapy has not worked, surgical treatment may be required. The doctor may recommend a curettage, which consists in the "removal of" the irregular endometrium that leads to blood loss: the problem, however, risks recurring in subsequent cycles, giving only immediate relief.
The endometrial ablation, on the other hand, is a method indicated only for those who no longer wish to become pregnant in the future and consists in the reduction of the internal mucosa of the uterus. In the case of uterine fibroids, one can think of an "embolization of the uterine artery".
Natural remedies and lifestyle
A correct diet could help you reduce the problem of heavy menstruation. Avoid industrial foods or foods that contain white flour and refined sugar as much as possible: cycle-related problems, such as cramps and bloating, increase. Instead, focus on the Mediterranean diet: fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, olive oil and whole grains.
Yes to all foods rich in potassium: it is a nutrient capable of normalizing the flow, present in foods such as bananas, sweet potatoes, legumes, yogurt, salmon. Then supplement your diet with foods that contain iron (you will need it if you lose a lot of blood!), Vitamin C (essential to absorb it) and vitamin B, perfect for preventing abdominal cramps. Finally, magnesium is fundamental: it is capable of rebalancing female hormones by reducing menorrhagia.
Another change in your lifestyle that would bring many benefits in regulating your cycle is to carry out regular physical activity. If you practice a sport consistently, even if light, your body will be less predisposed to weight changes, including prime causes of irregular flow.
Acupuncture and acupressure (which improve blood circulation) or aromatherapy may also be useful as remedies.
Finally, among the natural remedies are recommended: the alchemilla, whose leaves (to be consumed in infusion) have known coagulating and astringent capacities, capable of regulating the menstrual flow; the chaste tree, excellent for rebalancing hormones; cinnamon, capable of relieving heavy bleeding; juniper sabina, able to reduce the duration of menorrhagia.
Additional advice if you suffer from heavy and long periods
If your menstrual flow is very heavy, remember to always carry a good amount of sanitary pads with you (choose the nocturnal ones, capable of absorbing more blood, even during the day!) And to change them often, whenever you feel the need. Avoid tampons, which are not suitable for menorrhagia.
Bring spare panties with you in case yours get stained. Be careful to cover surfaces such as armchairs, beds and sofas with absorbent towels: having to spend a lot of time lying down (rest is important in these cases!), Leaks could occur and it would be a shame to dirty them!
If the cramps are very severe, resort to specific medications and use a hot water bottle. Contacting your gynecologist, in case of a prolonged abundant flow, is essential in order to find the most suitable solution. Do not be afraid to ask and expose any doubts to him! In the meantime, here are some curiosities you did not know about menstruation:
For more information on the heavy menstrual cycle, you can consult the Humanitas hospital website.