Menorrhagia is the medical term for menstrual periods with abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is a flow of blood from the vagina that occurs either at the wrong time during the month or in excessive amounts. Menorrhagia can occur by itself or in combination with other symptoms, such as menstrual pain. Heavy bleeding does not necessarily mean there is anything seriously wrong, but it can affect a woman physically, emotionally and socially, and can cause disruption to everyday life.
The signs and symptoms of Menorrhagia may include:
- Soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours
- Needing to use double sanitary protection to control the menstrual flow
- Needing to wake up to change sanitary protection during the night
- Bleeding for longer than a week
- Passing blood clots with menstrual flow for more than one day
- Restricting daily activities due to heavy menstrual flow
- Symptoms of anemia, such as tiredness, fatigue or shortness of breath
Heavy periods may sometimes be caused by certain medical treatments, such as anticoagulant medicines and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, in 40-60% of cases of heavy period, no underlying cause has been identified so far. Otherwise, possible causes of heavy periods include the following:
- cervical or endometrial polyps;
- uterine fibroids;
- intrauterine contraceptive devices;
- pelvic inflammatory disease;
- polycystic ovary syndrome;
- inherited bleeding disorders and blood clotting disorders such as Von Willebrand disease;
- hormone imbalance and an underactive thyroid gland;
- dysfunction of the ovaries;
- pregnancy complications;
- cancer (uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and cervical cancer).
Menstrual cycles without ovulation are most common among two separate age groups: adolescent girls who have recently started menstruating and older women approaching menopause.
Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding can lead to other medical conditions, including iron deficiency anemia or severe pain.