Treatment for Heavy Periods

One of the main gynecologic problems in women is abnormal uterine bleeding. Abnormal uterine bleeding most often presents itself as heavy periods, known as menorrhagia, or bleeding at unexpected times, such as before or after a women's normal menstrual cycle.

Risk Factors

Abnormal uterine bleeding is more likely during puberty and among premenopausal women who are more likely to have erratic hormone levels. In women 40 years and older, it also may be a sign that a women is entering perimenopause. Pregnant women and postmenopausal women should always discuss abnormal uterine bleeding with their doctors immediately.The following are some of the causes that could be associated with abnormal uterine bleeding:

  • Ovulation
  • Medications
  • Intrauterine Devices
  • Vaginal, cervical or uterine infection
  • Cancer
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Fibroids, polyps or adenomyosis
  • Pre-existing bleeding disorders
  • Trauma

Symptoms

While the symptoms of abnormal uterine bleeding may be obvious, knowing which of the following symptoms you have will help your physician when determining the cause
and severity of your condition.

  • Periods that last longer than 7 days
  • Menstrual flow that soaks through one or more tampons or napkins every hour for consecutive hours
  • Menstrual flow that often includes large blood clots
  • Fatigue or shortness of breath during your period
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Continuous and irregular bleeding without obvious menstrual cycles
  • Postmenopausal bleeding

Treatment Options

Treatment options for abnormal uterine bleeding range from observation and reassurance to drug therapy or surgical intervention if necessary.

Endometrial ablation
A minimally invasive treatment, endometrial ablation utilizes lighted viewing instruments along with others to destroy (ablate) the uterine lining, or endometrium. The procedure can be performed using a variety of methods including, a laser, heat, electricity and freezing. Generally, patients require only local or spinal anesthesia and recover in a few days. The endometrial cavity heals by scarring. The absence of functional endometrial tissue reduces or prevents future uterine bleeding. Endometrial ablation reduces the menstrual flow of about 90% of women and up to half of the affected women will stop having periods all together.

Good candidates for endometrial ablation are women who:

  • are not responding to other treatments
  • have completed childbearing
  • are not able to or prefer not to have a hysterectomy
  • do not have large polyps or fibroids causing the bleeding.

Younger women are less likely to respond to this treatment and require a repeat procedure. Endometrial ablation is not a good option for women with postmenopausal bleeding.

Operative Hysteroscopy
In women with intracavitary (submucous) fibroids or polyps, removal of these anatomic abnormalities is the best treatment option. Often this can be accomplished using a camera (hysteroscope) through the vagina and cervix. When possible, this procedure is performed on an outpatient basis with patient's returning to normal activities within 1-3 days.

Progesterone-containing IUDs
An intrauterine device (IUD) with progesterone typically reduces bleeding by up to 80% in women with heavy bleeding. The IUD is placed into the uterus through the vagina and cervix. This usually is done at your doctor's office. The hormonal effects are local and therefore do not cause the side effects of systemic hormonal therapy. Progesterone-containing IUDs can be used in women who desire future childbearing.

This Draft Has Sidebar Blocks
Sidebar Block 1
More
Information
Sidebar Block 2
Sidebar Block 3
Sidebar Block 4

 

The George Washington University Hospital is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Universal Health Services, Inc.(UHS), a King of Prussia, PA-based company, that is one of the largest healthcare management companies in the nation.          

The George Washington University Hospital

900 23rd St., NW
Washington, DC 20037
202-715-4000

PRIVACY POLICY / HIPAA STATEMENT / PHYSICIAN DISCLAIMER
© 2014 The George Washington University Hospital. All rights reserved.

Note:The information on this Web site is provided as general health guidelines and may not be applicable to your particular health condition. Your individual health status and any required medical treatments can only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider of your choice. Remember: There is no adequate substitution for a personal consultation with your physician. Neither The George Washington University Hospital , or any of their affiliates, nor any contributors shall have any liability for the content or any errors or omissions in the information provided by this Web site.            

The information, content and artwork provided by this Web site is intended for non-commercial use by the reader. The reader is permitted to make one copy of the information displayed for his/her own non-commercial use. The making of additional copies is prohibited.