Menorrhagia: Introduction FeedbackA general introduction to Menorrhagia.Source: NHS Choices, 10 Oct 2012
Heavy periods, also called menorrhagia, is when a woman loses an excessive amount of blood during consecutive periods.
Menorrhagia can occur by itself or in combination with other symptoms, such as menstrual pain (dysmenorrhoea).
Heavy bleeding does not necessarily mean there is anything seriously wrong, but it can affect a woman physically, emotionally and socially, and can cause disruption to everyday life.
See your GP if you are worried about heavy bleeding during or between your periods.
How much is heavy bleeding?
It is difficult to define exactly what a heavy period is because the amount of blood lost during a period can vary considerably between women.
The average amount of blood lost during a period is 30-40ml (millilitres), with nine out of 10 women losing less than 80ml. Therefore, heavy menstrual bleeding is considered to be 60-80ml or more in each cycle.
However, it is rarely necessary to measure blood loss. Most women have a good idea about how much bleeding is normal for them during their period and can tell when this amount increases or decreases.
A good indication that your blood loss is excessive is if:
- you feel you are using an unusually high number of tampons or pads
- you experience flooding (heavy bleeding) through to your clothes or bedding
- you need to use tampons and towels together
Why do heavy periods happen?
In most cases, no underlying cause of heavy periods is identified. However, some conditions and treatments have been linked to menorrhagia, including:
- uterine fibroids
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs)
- anticoagulant medication
Read more about the causes of heavy periods.
Your GP should be able to diagnose heavy periods from your symptoms alone.
The cause of your menorrhagia may sometimes need to be investigated further. Usually, this involves a pelvic examination and a blood test.
If a cause is still not found, then you may have an ultrasound scan.
Read more about diagnosing heavy periods.
Treating heavy periods
In some cases, heavy periods do not need to be treated, as they can be a natural variation and may not disrupt your lifestyle.
If treatment is necessary, medication is most commonly used first. However, it may take a while to find the medication most suitable for you, as their effectiveness is different for everyone and some also act as contraceptives.
If medication doesn't work, surgery may also be an option.
Read more about treating heavy periods.
Menorrhagia: Guidance FeedbackThe most relevant search results for Menorrhagia from producers of guidance information.
Menorrhagia: Commissioning FeedbackThe most relevant search results for Menorrhagia from producers of commissioning advice.
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 12 December 2008
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 11 June 2008
CMG10 Services for the provision of intrauterine devices and the intrauterine system for contraception and the management of heavy menstrual bleeding [PDF]National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 01 February 2009
Information for the public
Menorrhagia: Information for the public FeedbackThe most relevant search results for Menorrhagia, from Department of Health accredited producers of patient information.
- Bupa , 15 November 2012
- NHS Choices, 10 October 2012
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 22 March 2006
- Patient UK
IPG104 Impedance-controlled bipolar radiofrequency ablation for menorrhagia: understanding NICE guidance [PDF]National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 15 December 2004
- Patient UK
Menorrhagia: Ongoing Research FeedbackThe most relevant search results for Menorrhagia, from research trials.
Effectiveness and Cost-effectiveness of Levonorgestrel containing Intrauterine system in Primary care against Standard treatment for menorrhagiaUK Clinical Trials Gateway, 11 June 2004
- UK Clinical Trials Gateway, 29 July 2010
Menorrhagia: Evidence Uncertainty FeedbackThe most relevant search results for Menorrhagia, highlighting areas where further research is needed.
Non-surgical interventions for treating heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) in women with bleeding disordersUK Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatments, 28 February 2013
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 01 March 2006
Information is lacking about the long-term results of [impedance-controlled endometrial ablation for menorrhagia]. Clinicians are encouraged to collect data on rates of recurrence and late complications, and they should ensure that patients are awareNational Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 01 December 2004
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