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What Causes Heavy Menstrual Bleeding?

By Dr. Nadim Hawa, Capital Women’s Care

On your daily trip to the drugstore to pick up super-jumbo tampons (or pads), you may wonder, “Why me? Why am I plagued with such heavy periods?”

Well, it’s not by chance or by luck, there are a couple of key factors that could contribute to your heavy period — and even more factors that can help you to decrease your menstrual flow.

Of course, you should first talk to your doctor to ensure that your heavy flow isn’t a sign of another underlying medical issue, but there’s a good chance it’s caused by one of these three culprits:

If you have a heavy menstrual flow, there’s a good chance someone else in your family does too. But this doesn’t mean you have to suffer together and remind each other to change your jumbo tampons every hour, it means you can share this information with your sister, or your cousin, and try to combat Aunt Flo’s heavy reign together!

Irregularities in the Uterus
If you have a polyp, fibroid, or cyst — present in the uterus, it could be contributing to your heavy monthly cycle. If you’re not sure if you have any of these irregularities, talk to your doctor.

Irregular Periods
If you have irregular periods, specifically a cycle that is over 30 days or skips occasional months, there’s a good chance your flow will be heavier. Thankfully, there are a few ways to regulate your period.

Whatever the reason for your heavy periods, there are options for alleviating your monthly visitor to be less painful and less intense. Consider some of the following:

Hormonal Birth Control or an IUD
Birth control options do a lot more than just ensuring that you won’t get pregnant until you’re ready. Both hormonal birth control and IUDs can help to regulate your period with estrogen and progesterone and work to prevent or alleviate severe bleeding. An IUD can reduce blood flow by 71 to 94 percent, and some IUDs can even stop your period completely.

Add Some Vitamin A to Your Diet
A healthy diet is never a bad thing — and while eating better, in general, can help make your period less painful and more regular — Vitamin A specifically has been shown to relieve symptoms and menstrual flow in women. Try incorporating more carrots, sweet potato, squash, and pumpkin in your diet — they’re great comfort foods!

Pre-Medicate With Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
If you have a regular cycle, mark on your calendar a few days before your period starts so that you can prepare by taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen. Not only will it combat cramps, but it can also decrease your flow by about half. Talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for these medications and if they’re safe for your body and lifestyle.

Exercise More
I know you probably don’t need another reason to work out, but here’s one anyway: moderate exercise can decrease PMS symptoms and menstrual flow. You don’t have to run a marathon, start with some simple yoga or a light walk around your neighborhood park, anything is better than nothing!

(Try Your Best) To De-Stress
Telling somebody to relax is futile and silly, but if you think that your rough period may have to do with the fact that you’re constantly stressed, try employing new measures to get a little R&R. Something simple, like downloading a meditation app, can make a big difference! Self-care is important, and so is your comfort!

Talk To Your Doctor about Surgical Treatments
If you’ve tried the above options and are still having a painful, heavy period, try talking to your doctor about surgical solutions. Some potential procedures — fibroid removal, endometrial ablation, dilation and curettage (D&C) — can decrease your blood flow or stop your period completely.


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