Rivers Of Red
Menstruation Cycles Are Individual
Menstruation is what qualifies women in terms of being of childbearing age, and the menstrual cycle is different for each woman. Normally, menstruation occurs every month, between 21 and 35 days apart and usually lasts between four to seven days. The blood loss from this monthly event is only about two or three tablespoons (even though it seems like more). A normal period may fall into any of these categories: regular or irregular, with pain or without pain (cramping), heavy flow or light flow, longer in duration or only four days. All of these are considered to be normal for menses.
When The Stream Becomes A River
When a woman arrives at perimenopause, that period of time when her body begins the process of moving away from reproduction, her period may increase in intensity and bleeding may become heavier. However, if at any time during the reproductive years menstruation yields a blood loss of 80 milliliters or more, then a condition called menorrhagia is present. Menorrhagia simply means heavy menstrual bleeding.
Most women have had very heavy periods from time to time. However, there are signs that indicate something more serious when menstrual flow is so heavy that it soaks through one or more sanitary napkins in the space of one hour over a period of several hours. If it is necessary to use more than one pad at a time to control the flow or it is necessary to change the pad through the night, then it is possible the woman has menorrhagia. Periods that seem as though they will never end, going on past a week and having clots in the blood are other indications of menorrhagia. Constant pain, fatigue, weakness and other symptoms of anemia are included as symptoms of this heavy bleeding condition.
What Are The Causes of Menorrhagia?
There are a number of conditions that may lead to menorrhagia. If there is an imbalance in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which govern the production of the endometrium (lining of the uterus that is sloughed during menses), there may be excessive production of tissue which causes heavy bleeding during menstruation. However, hormone imbalance may also be the result of a thyroid condition. Hormone treatment can be used to regulate the bleeding-but it is important that medication be used strictly as improper use can trigger menorrhagia as well.
Uterine fibroids, and small benign growths on the uterine wall known as polyps, can also cause heavy menstruation. Dysfunctional ovaries, where there is anovulation (lack of ovulating) can create hormone imbalances which result in menorrhagia. Adenomyosis, a condition that often appears in older women who have had several babies, occurs when the uterine muscle has several glands from the endometrium embedded in it. It is a very painful condition.
One of the most frequent causes of menorrhagia is the use of intrauterine devices that are non-hormonal. If excessive bleeding occurs during the time an IUD is in place, then the IUD should be removed. Sometimes female cancers can cause heavy bleeding as can STDs. Medications are yet another cause for heavy menstruation.
When To Call The Doctor
Regular pap tests and yearly pelvic examinations are two ways to stay ahead of the bleeding. However, if the bleeding is excessive during any one month, it is important to contact the health care provider and get immediate attention. Severe pain that doesn't respond to home treatment, or heavy bleeding after menopause are also causes for concern.