The medical term used to describe excessive bleeding during period is menorrhagia. There is no specific parameter that can define this condition. It is different for every woman. It's a matter of concern when a woman experiences heavier menstrual periods than her usual period. What makes this condition worse is that it is often accompanied by heavy clotting. In normal condition, anticoagulants are released by the body to prevent clotting of blood. However, when there is excessive blood flow, the blood passes before the anticoagulant starts its action. This leads to formation of blood clots during heavy bleeding period.
If you experience excessive bleeding and clotting during period once in a while, then you need not worry about it. However, if it is felt on a regular basis, it is likely that the condition is triggered by any of the following reasons:
The two reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone are responsible for regulation of tissue buildup on the uterus lining also known as endometrium which is shed during menstrual periods. When the level of these two hormones fluctuate, an imbalance is created which leads to excessive buildup of endometrium. This is then shed through heavy bleeding. This kind of hormonal fluctuation is quite common in adolescent girls when they get their first menstrual periods. It can also happen in women who are approaching menopause.
The ovaries are responsible for the production of reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone. When the ovaries are not functioning normally, production of these two hormones get affected. Excessive or less production of these hormones can cause heavy bleeding.
These are non cancerous growth on the uterine lining. In general, they are harmless but can cause excessive bleeding. They are mostly formed when there is a high level of reproductive hormones in a woman's body.
These are small, benign tumors that grow inside the uterus and commonly occur in women of childbearing age. It can be identified with symptoms like pelvis pain, abdominal swelling along with excessive bleeding.
Intrauterine device (IUD)
Many women face the problem of heavy bleeding and clotting during periods soon after insertion of an IUD for birth control. In case there is too much bleeding, doctors may suggest removal of the device.
Some pregnancy related complications such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy can cause sudden onset of heavy bleeding and clotting. Change in birth control pills or its dosage can trigger excessive bleeding as the body tries to adjust itself with the change in the level of synthetic hormones. The problem will subside as soon as the body adapts itself with the changes. Those women who are having medical conditions like underactive thyroid, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), liver disease, kidney disease, blood clotting disorder tend to get too much bleeding during periods. In some rare cases, it can be a symptom of uterine cancer or ovarian cancer.
Heavy bleeding and clotting during period is diagnosed with the help of laboratory tests like blood tests, pap test and ultrasound scan. In some cases, endometrial biopsy is also conducted. The treatment is largely based upon the age, overall health condition and the underlying cause, of the patient. Too much bleeding often increases the chances of anemia. For this reason, doctors prescribe iron supplements to prevent or correct iron deficiency anemia. When heavy bleeding is accompanied by painful symptoms of menstrual cramps, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are given for pain relief.
Oral contraceptive pills are widely used for treatment. These pills are useful for regulating the menstrual cycle and reduce the duration of heavy bleeding. Oral progesterone is another medicine often used for treating menorrhagia. This medicine prevents abnormal buildup of endometrium on the lining of the uterus and stops heavy bleeding. An effective method of treating excessive bleeding involves use of hormonal IUD. It releases synthetic progesterone that makes the lining of the uterus thin and thus heavy blood flow can be controlled.
In those cases, where oral medicines cannot bring about any improvement, surgical options may have to be availed. There are different surgical procedures that are used for treating different conditions. Dilation and curettage (or D and C) is one such technique where the tissue buildup on the uterine wall is scraped out and thus the problem is treated successfully. However, if required, it may have to be repeated again in future.
Endometrial ablation and endometrial resection are other two surgical techniques that are used for removing the lining of the uterus. These methods are applicable in those cases where a woman suffers huge blood loss due to heavy menstrual flow. A uterine polyp is removed with the help of a procedure known as hysteroscopy. When all other treatment options fail to yield results, doctors resort to hysterectomy, a surgical procedure used for complete removal of the uterus and cervix. Doctors try to avoid it as it stops the menstrual period permanently.
All the causes of excessive bleeding can be treated successfully. So, you need not panic and jump into conclusion that you have some major gynecological problem. You just have to visit your doctor for timely treatment. He will have an elaborate discussion with you on the severity of the condition and all possible treatment options. He will also let you know what you can expect from a particular treatment. You have to take the right decision at the right time and cure the problem.