Heavy menstrual bleeding (also called menorrhagia) is excessive menstrual blood loss that interferes with a woman's quality of life.
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In some cases, the cause is not known. However, many conditions have been associated with menorrhagia, such as: Uterine fibroid
Bleeding disorder (eg,
von Willebrand disease
Hormonal imbalanceCervical or endometrial polypOvarian cystCertain medicinesIntrauterine device (IUD)
Factors that may increase the risk of menorrhagia include: Being an adolescent
Symptoms of menorrhagia include: Menstrual bleeding lasting more than seven daysUnusually heavy bleeding (soaking through a sanitary napkin or tampon every hour)Menstrual flow requiring change of sanitary protection during the nightMenstrual flow including large clotsMenstrual flow interfering with lifestyle
Fatigue and/or shortness of breath (symptoms of
Call your doctor if you have symptoms of menorrhagia.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical examination, including a pelvic exam, will be done. Tests may include: Pap testBlood testsTransvaginal
(removal of a sample of endometrial tissue)
Dilation and curettage
(scraping of the inner lining of the uterus)
(examination of the cervix and fallopian tubes)
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the heavy menstrual bleeding. Your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan.
Your doctor may recommend: Hormonal therapyAn IUD that releases the hormone progesteroneNonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugsIron supplement
In some cases, surgery may be needed, such as: Dilation and curettageOperative hysteroscopy (may be used along with other tools to remove a polyp)Endometrial ablation
(removal of the lining of the uterus)—This procedure reduces your chance of becoming pregnant.
(removal of the uterus)—After this procedure, you will not be able to become pregnant.
There are no specific steps to prevent this condition.
Apgar B, Kaufman A, George-Nwogu U, Kittendorf A. Treatment of menorrhagia. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
. Published June 15, 2007. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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