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What causes heavy periods?

Heavy Period

Heavy periods can be messy, painful, and simply incovenient. So many questions arise as women are faced with this monthly challenge. Let's explore:

Q: What is a "heavy period?"

Experts agree that every woman can have her own definition of a heavy period. So, if you say it's a heavy period, it certainly is. Then again, you might not think you have heavy periods but you are suffering all the signs and symptoms of heavy periods.

Q: Why do I have a heavy periods?

The reasons vary from woman to woman. Hormone changes, fibroids, endometriosis, a blood disorder, use of copper IUD, certain medications, precancerous or cancerous cells all can cause heavy periods. Interestingly, if you've had your tubes tied, you may get heavy periods several years later. And then some women just bleed heavily without any underlying problem.

Q: How can I reduce my menstrual flow?

Plan early. Periods can be regulated with hormones but you need at least a 3-4 week jumpstart before the period starts. Birth control pills, IUD, Nexplanon, injection could all achieve this to varying extents. Remember that the copper IUD may actually increase already heavy periods. There is also nonhormonal pill called Lysteda that you could take only during the heavy period, not everyday. For women who are done with having babies, endometrial ablation can be helpful. Surgery is also an option.

Q: Can you lose too much blood with heavy periods?

Absolutely. A good way to find out is by checking your red blood cell level. If it's low, it means you've been losing so much blood s fast that your body is struggling to keep up. This state is called "anemia." If you're tired all the time, cold when everyone else is hot, or start craving ice, you might have anemiaand we need to check your blood level.

Q: As I get older, why are my periods getting heavier?

As women get older (forties), the periods may get heavier and occur more frequently. Unfortunately, this is also the time when abnormal precancerous cells or even fibroids could start to grow signficantly. A change from light to heavy flow could be abnormal and should be investigated.

Q: How to deal with heavy periods?

Drink plenty of fluids. Eat iron-rich foods. See a doctor for a workup and treatment plan for your unique situation.

Dr. Chetanna Okasi Dr. Okasi is a board certified obstetrician/gynecologist, and the medical director of Women's Wellness MD. Her mission is to help women achieve total wellness of mind, body, and spirit.

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