What Your Heavy Periods Are Trying to Tell You

What a heavy period is actually telling you about your menstrual health!

The stress, junk food-eating and the ongoing mayhem caused by the deadly Coronavirus can take a toll not only on your mental health but also your menstrual cycle.  

While it is natural for the menstrual flow to fluctuate due to outside factors, sometimes you need to take a closer look at your cycles. Dr Amit Kamat, Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan agrees.

He says, "When the cycle begins, it is normal for your periods to be heavy or be irregular. Periods are not associated with ovulation right when they start as the hormones that monitor it have not quite found their space yet. However, an occasional heavy flow is not bothersome."

He adds that you need to take note of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding or HMB, clinically referred to as Menorrhagia, when the menstrual flow remains as heavy as it was on Day 1. "A woman usually experiences loss of menstrual blood which is greater than 60 – 80 ml per cycle in this condition. Its occurrence increases with age and can be a sign of an underlying health problem that needs treatment," he says.

Signs to watch out for and why is heavy menstrual bleeding a serious problem for women?

"It is understood that only 1/3rd of women seek treatment for the problem. A doctor would examine find the cause after listening to the patient’s concern and assessing them. Heavy menstrual bleeding can cause the patient to become Anemic (Iron deficiency), which would add to their woes. It is also important to check on problems like low blood platelets." 

Also read: Delayed, Missed or Irregular: What Your Period is Trying to Tell You!

What causes Menorrhagia?

"Heavy menstrual bleeding affects about 1-5 women and is a common problem in the 30-50-year-old age group. About 50 per cent of women with heavy menstrual bleeding have no abnormalities in their uterus. It might be related to hormonal or chemical levels in the Endometrium (the internal lining of the Uterus) or conditions not yet identified. In the other 50 per cent, it is related to Fibroids, Cancer, pregnancy problems such as Ectopic Pregnancy, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or use of Intrauterine Device (IUD)."

When to call your doctor?

Bleeding lasting longer than 7 days or the need to change pads every hour or so is a signal to call your doctor. Spotting can also be an issue and certain symptoms may look like other medical conditions. Your doctor may advise the following in order to make a correct diagnosis:

Blood tests for disorders like Anemia, Thyroid and clotting
Ultrasound for checking the Uterus, Ovaries and pelvis
Pap smear to check on cervical infection, inflammation, Dysplasia and Cancer
Endometrial Biopsy to evaluate the lining of the Uterus
Hysteroscopy to inspect the Uterus lining

Dr Kamat adds, that while heavy menstrual bleeding is common, there is a lack of knowledge among women that they can seek help to alleviate the distress it causes. Some are hesitant to talk about it, however, talking to a healthcare professional is very important to make a correct diagnosis and begin treatment.