Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Period Problems

As women get older and particular after having children periods tend to get heavier. However, periods lasting longer than 7 days or where bleeding is so heavy that you are passing blood clots or having to get up at night to change is not normal and should be investigated.

What causes heavy periods?

In some cases, the cause of heavy periods can’t be identified. However, there are a number of conditions and some treatments that can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.

Conditions that can cause heavy bleeding include:

  • fibroids– non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the womb and can cause heavy or painful periods
  • polycystic ovary syndrome – a common condition that affects how the ovaries work; it causes irregular periods and when periods return they can be heavy
  • pelvic inflammatory disease – an infection in the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries that can cause pelvic or abdominal pain and bleeding after sex or between periods
  • adenomyosis – when tissue from the womb lining becomes embedded in the wall of the womb
  • endometriosis– when small pieces of the womb lining are found outside the womb, such as in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder or vagina (although this is more likely to cause painful periods)
  • an underactive thyroid gland – where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, causing tiredness, weight gain and feelings of depression
  • cervical or endometrial polyps – non-cancerous growths in the lining of the uterus or cervix
  • blood clotting disorders, such as Von Willebrands Disease
  • cancer of the uterus (although this is relatively rare)

Medical treatments that can sometimes cause heavy periods include:

  • an IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device, or ‘the coil’) – this can make your periods heavier because the copper on the coil can increase bleeding
  • blood thinning medication, for example warfarin (taken to prevent blood clots)
  • some medicines used for chemotherapy

Investigations for Heavy Periods

Treatment of Heavy Periods