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What Causes Heavy Menstrual Bleeding?

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Every woman, from time to time has experienced an unusually heavy cycle or two. But doctors define menorrhagia as heavy bleeding, maybe even accompanied by severe cramps, as so intense that day to day life is disrupted. On the other hand, it is important to remember that what is normal for one woman, may not be for you. Normal periods for some are regular or irregular, light or heavy, painful or not or even long or short as indicated by the Mayo Clinic.

But if you are experiencing some or all of the following symptoms, it may be time to check with your doctor:

Menstrual flow that soaks through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours

The need to use double sanitary protection to control your menstrual flow

The need to change sanitary protection during the night

Menstrual periods lasting longer than seven days

Menstrual flow that includes large blood clots

Heavy menstrual flow that interferes with your regular lifestyle

Tiredness, fatigue or shortness of breath (symptoms of anemia)

But what causes it?

Now that we know what menorrhagia is, it was equally important to know what causes it. The Mayo Clinic lists the following common causes:

Hormonal imbalance - In a normal menstrual cycle, a balance between the hormones estrogen and progesterone regulates the buildup of the lining of the uterus (endometrium), which is shed during menstruation. If a hormonal imbalance occurs, the endometrium develops in excess and eventually sheds by way of heavy menstrual bleeding.

Dysfunction of the ovaries - Lack of ovulation may cause hormonal imbalance and result in menorrhagia.

Uterine fibroids - These noncancerous (benign) tumors of the uterus may cause heavier than normal or prolonged menstrual bleeding.

Polyps - Small, benign growths on the lining of the uterine wall (uterine polyps) may cause heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding.

Adenomyosis - This condition occurs when glands from the endometrium become embedded in the uterine muscle, often causing heavy bleeding and pain.

Intrauterine device (IUD) - Menorrhagia is a well-known side effect of using a nonhormonal intrauterine device for birth control. When an IUD is the cause of excessive menstrual bleeding, you may need to remove it.

Pregnancy complications – Unusual and heavy bleeding may be due to a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy – a fertilized egg growing in on of the fallopian tube.

Cancer - Rarely, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and cervical cancer can cause excessive menstrual bleeding.

Inherited bleeding disorders - Some blood coagulation disorders can cause abnormal menstrual bleeding.

Medications - Certain drugs, including anti-inflammatory medications and anticoagulants (to prevent blood clots), can contribute to heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Improper use of hormone medications also can cause menorrhagia.

Other medical conditions - A number of other medical conditions, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), thyroid problems, endometriosis, and liver or kidney disease, may cause menorrhagia.

Most of these causes will have to be identified by a doctor. Be proactive and take note of what’s happening t o your body. If you are not comfortable with what’s going on, check with your physician as soon as possible. There’s no need to suffer when treatment is readily available.

Best in Health!

Dita Faulkner is a freelance writer that loves to write poetry. Please feel free to preview her work at:


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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.