It is estimated that 20% of all menstruating women suffer from menorrhagia. This is the medical term for menstrual periods with abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding. The menstruation often lasts longer than seven days and a change of tampon or sanitary towel can be necessary every hour.
What exactly causes menorrhagia stays unknown in about 60% of all cases. It could be linked to polyps, fibroids, hormonal changes or could occur when a woman stops taking the pill. Most women don’t develop menorrhagia until they’re 35.
Menorrhagia can impact your quality of life. Both physically (an iron deficiency which leads to fatigue) and socially (staying home from work, cancelling appointments and gym training). But because most times it doesn’t appear out of nowhere, you’re slowly ‘growing into it’. You will learn to understand and accept that it is only a medical problem for which there are certain solutions.
What to do?
Possible solutions are hormonal therapy, such as the contraceptive pill or hormone spiral. Another answer could be curettage (a surgical procedure which involves removing tissue from the inside of the uterus). The most rigorous operation is a hysterectomy, where the whole uterus is surgically removed. Luckily milder solutions have already been discovered, like the removal of the uterus lining by means of electric energy, an outpatient treatment.
It is difficult to exactly define ‘a heavy period’, as this is very subjective. This makes menorrhagia hard to measure. What one woman considers a lot of blood, another might view as a completely normal bleeding. Make sure to keep a menstruation diary a few months before visiting your GP, as he or she will need to know about your bleeding.
Uterine Fibroids Awareness Month
Uterine fibroids, a possible cause of menorrhagia, are non-cancerous tumors that grow within the walls of the uterus. It’s estimated that by the age of 50, as many as 70% of white females and 80% of African American females have had fibroids. Sometimes these fibroids don’t cause any problems, but in other cases women who suffer from them feel pelvic pain or pressure. Other common symptoms are long-lasting periods with heavy blood loss and frequent urination or incontinence and pain during sex. Good to know: there are many successful treatment options available.
July is Uterine Fibroids Awareness Month. The aim of this American initiative: drawing attention to this disease in order to obtain more awareness and funding for research.