Why do I have heavy periods?

November 12, 2012

Why do I have heavy periods?

If you are losing more than 80mls of blood during each menstrual cycle, you are medically classified as having heavy periods.

Heavy periods, or menorrhagia, are defined as the loss of more than 80 ml of blood during each period – obviously since measuring the actual blood loss would be extremely problematic medical professionals will rely on the description of the period provided by their patient.

When is a period heavy?

  • Bleeding for between 8 and 10 days, particularly if this happens repeatedly.

  • When bleeding affects quality of life – perhaps a woman may be unable to attend work during her period or may have to plan her life around her the timings of her period.

  • Anemia develops

  • Presence of large blood clots in the blood loss for more than 2 days

  • ‘FloodingÂ’ – the sudden, unexpected onset of a period where the blood loss is almost like a tap opening.

Why do some women experience heavy and extended periods?

  • Younger women may have a hormone imbalance which corrects itself

  • Women close to the menopause may also experience heavy periods due to hormonal imbalance – although the possibility of underlying disease causing heavy periods increases with age.

  • Fibroids – the development of fibrous tissue in the uterus

  • Endometriosis – when cells from the uterus grows in other areas of the body

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

  • Polyps in the womb lining

  • For most women with heavy periods there is no known cause – this is referred to as dysfunctional uterine bleeding.

Do I need medical attention?

A woman who is suffering constant heavy periods should seek the advice of her doctor and request that she is able to see a gynecologist, particularly if her quality of life is being adversely affected. The doctor will carry out a pelvic examination and may order an ultrasound scan or biopsy of the womb lining; this will ensure that there is no cell abnormality present. A hysteroscopy may also be recommended, a procedure not requiring an anesthetic, whereby a fine telescope is passed through the cervix in order to examine the womb and the womb lining.


If no underlying cause is found for the heavy periods then not treatment is strictly necessary, however women may need help in dealing with her periods.

  • Oral medication may be prescribed – either hormonal such as the contraceptive pill or non-hormonal such as tranexamic

  • Non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs are found to reduce monthly loss by up to a third.

  • Hormone containing contraceptive coils are

  • Laser or heat treatment to the womb lining will then destroy that lining.

  • Hysterectomy – removal of the uterus is a common surgical treatment for heavy periods.

  • If the heavy periods are the result of an underlying medical condition then obviously treatment will be based on the needs of that condition.

  • Iron or folic acid supplements may be prescribed.

It is this writers contention that no woman should have to suffer persistent heavy periods and that they should seek medical advice urgently in order that the condition is dealt with promptly.

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