If you’re a woman between the ages of 15 and 55, chances are high that you have a monthly period. Your period is controlled by hormones, and it’s a part of your menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle is the process your body goes through to prepare for pregnancy. Your ovaries release an egg (ovulation), and if it’s fertilized, you get pregnant. If it isn’t fertilized, your period is triggered and your uterine lining sheds.
Symptoms of your period can vary, and many women find that the characteristics of their menstrual cycles are unique. A surprising number of women, however, are living with abnormally heavy periods and potentially serious symptoms.
At OB/GYN Specialists, Daniel McDonald, MD, and Marc Wilson, MD, are experts in diagnosing and treating pelvic pain and heavy periods. There are many different reasons that you could have abnormally heavy bleeding during your period, and the risks of ignoring the condition can significantly impact your health.
Heavy bleeding can be accompanied by severe menstrual cramps, forcing you to miss work or school. It can be linked to endometriosis, or increase your risk of other medical conditions, including anemia.
Signs of abnormally heavy periods
Every woman’s period is different. Some periods are short, lasting just two to three days, while others consistently last a week. While differences in your period’s duration and the length of your menstrual cycle might vary, certain symptoms shouldn’t be ignored.
Heavy menstrual bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, can severely impact your quality of life and overall well-being. Signs that you might have periods that are too heavy include:
- Bleeding that lasts longer than a week
- Soaking through a pad or tampon every hour
- Needing to change pads or tampons during the night
- Passing blood clots larger than a quarter
Blood lost during your period contains red blood cells, which are important for your overall well-being. Women with regular periods don’t lose enough blood to experience negative side effects, but significant blood loss during your period can lead to anemia.
Signs of anemia
If you have consistently heavy bleeding during your menstrual period, it’s possible to suffer anemia. Your iron levels can go down from the blood loss during your period, leaving you feeling depleted and fatigued.
Anemia is a medical condition that develops when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. Red blood cells are a crucial component of your blood. They carry oxygen to your organs, muscles, and tissues.
You might have anemia if you experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or irregular heartbeat
- Pale skin
- Poor circulation in your hands and feet
Anemia can be a short-term condition, or it can become chronic. It has a number of causes, so it’s important to visit the doctor if you think you might have anemia.
What to do about heavy periods
Getting a diagnosis is the first step to finding relief from period-related anemia and other symptoms. Dr. McDonald and Dr. Wilson are experts in identifying common causes of abnormal bleeding.
Hormonal birth control is often a good option for women who want to have children in the future. These birth control options can regulate your menstrual cycle and reduce or even eliminate menstrual flow.
For women who don’t want to have children, there are other options. Endometrial ablation is a common treatment for endometriosis, and a hysterectomy is another permanent option to eliminate menstrual bleeding.
If your period is getting in the way of your health and happiness, visit us at OB/GYN Specialists. We’re here to help you understand the cause and potential complications of your heavy periods. Call our Denton, Texas, office today at 940-202-0566 for your first appointment, or send the team a message here on our website.