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Girls that reach puberty undergo menstruation every month. Menstruation is vaginal bleeding that occurs on an average of 28 days for 4-7 days.

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Also called as periods, this bleeding can occur anywhere between 20 to 45 days apart in different women. Sometimes, one suffers from abnormal uterine bleeding. One such type of abnormal uterine bleeding is menorrhagia. Let us learn more about this condition.

What is Menorrhagia?

One of the most common types of abnormal bleeding is menorrhagia. It is characterized by heavy, prolonged vaginal bleeding. It leads to passage of more than 80 ml of blood during each cycle. However, there are other factors to be considered apart from the volume of blood. This is because it is difficult to monitor the blood volume under normal conditions.

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These factors that help determine menorrhagia or heavy periods are as follows:

When the bleeding occurs for more than normal period length that is, around 8- 10 days every month.

Bleeding causes disruption of normal daily activities, such that the woman cannot move around freely during her periods.

Bleeding leads to anemia.

Presence of blood clots for more than two days.

What are the Symptoms of Menorrhagia?

The main symptom of menorrhagia is heavy bleeding, that you must have understood by now.

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This bleeding is so heavy, that it soaks sanitary napkins such that one needs to change them after every hour. Apart from heavy bleeding, the days of menstruation are also extended. From the normal 4-7 days, women suffering from menorrhagia bleed for 8-10 days. Some women bleed or suffer from spotting between their periods, during pregnancy as well as after sex.

What Are the Causes of Menorrhagia?

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Menorrhagia can occur due to many possible causes. Some of these causes are as follows:

Hormonal imbalance that usually occurs in adolescent girls as well as women who are nearing menopause. These imbalances occur between estrogen and progesterone hormones.

Medical conditions that lead to heavy bleeding include fibroids, endometriosis, polyps or pelvic inflammatory disease.

Abnormal pregnancies too lead to heavy bleeding, like, ectopic pregnancy.

Presence of high levels of chemical substances in the body that either control the muscle contraction in uterus or help in dilation of blood vessels. These chemicals include prostaglandins and endothelins.

Women who suffer from platelet or bleeding disorders suffer from heavy periods.

Some suffer from endometrial carcinoma may also suffer from irregular bleeding.

Stress, use of excessive birth control pills, sudden weight loss or weight gain, changes in diet, etc. can also lead to menorrhagia.

How is Menorrhagia Diagnosed?

The medical history as well as the age of the patient is taken into consideration. Physical examination, pelvic examination carried out. The doctor may then call for certain tests that include the following:

Blood test such as pregnancy test, complete blood count (CBC), hemoglobin, thyroid function test, etc.

PAP smear to check for cervical abnormalities

Pelvic sonography

Urinalysis to check for infection

Endometrial biopsy to check for abnormal or cancerous cells.

How is Menorrhagia Treated?

After the tests are conducted, the treatment is offered according to the abnormality detected. If no abnormality is found, no treatment is necessary. However, to help the patient cope up with the heavy and prolonged bleeding, some treatments will be recommended. These treatments include:

Dose of iron supplements that help overcome anemia

Non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications that help in reducing the discomfort and pain every month.

Hormonal treatment to treat hormonal imbalance like progesterone.

In extreme cases, endometrial ablation (destruction of uterine lining) or hysterectomy (surgical removal of uterus) is carried out.

Menorrhagia can lead to anemia, shortness of breath, weakness, loss of concentration, etc. It is important to seek medical help to overcome any doubts regarding underlying diseases or conditions. If you are suffering from heavy, prolonged and painful periods, visit your gynecologists soon.

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Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: January 05, 2015