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Heavy Or Abnormal Menstrual Bleeding

July 14, 2010

Most women will experience some heavier than usual bleeding during a menstrual period at some point during their reproductive years. But for some women, every single menstrual period is like that, causing so much blood loss and such heavy cramping that they can't perform their usual everyday activities. The medical name for this type of menstrual period which is either heavy, long, or both is menorrhagia.

Hormonal Imbalance

Menorrhagia is usually caused by a hormonal imbalance that brings on menstruation without ovulation. During the course of a normal cycle, when the egg is released from the ovaries, progesterone production is triggered. Progesterone regulates the menstrual periods. When there is no egg release (ovulation), not enough progesterone is released and this causes heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding.

Anovulatory Cycle

When the menstrual cycle lacks ovulation, it is termed an "anovulatory cycle." This type of cycle is more common in girls who have just begun to menstruate and in women who are close to the end of their childbearing years. In young girls, the first year and a half after the menarche, or the first period, is often without ovulation. In women approaching menopause, the hormones begin to fluctuate so that anovulatory cycles are experienced.

While many women will experience heavier bleeding in the years prior to menopause, there is often not so much bleeding as to be termed menorrhagia. But if you've begun to dread the arrival of your periods, it may be time to speak with your physician. There are treatments available for treating this problem.

The normal menstrual period brings a total blood loss of three tablespoons, maximum, and lasts from 4-5 days. A woman with menorrhagia loses around 5 1/2 tablespoons of blood during her periods. The symptoms of menorrhagia include:

*Soaking through pads or tampons each hour over a period of many hours

*Doubling up on pads or using a tampon plus pad to keep your menstrual flow under control

*Needing to change pads or tampons in the middle of the night

*Periods that last longer than a week

*Period blood contains large clots

*Heavy blood flow gets in the way of your normal activities

*Displaying symptoms of anemia due to blood loss: shortness of breath, fatigue, tiredness

If you find you're having such heavy vaginal bleeding that you're soaking through your sanitary protection each hour for several hours straight, seek medical attention.

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