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Menorrhagia

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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WOMEN'S HEALTH

Menstruation

  • Dysmenorrhea

  • Menorrhagia

  • Mittelschmerz

  • Premenstrual syndrome

  • Menorrhagia is the medical term for excessive bleeding at the time of the menstrual period, either in number of days or amount of blood or both.
    Almost every woman at some time in her reproductive life experiences heavy bleeding during her menstrual period. Some women have heavy periods almost every cycle. Menorrhagia - the Greek roots men meaning "month" and rhegnynai meaning "to burst forth" - is the medical term for excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding or both. The condition is also known as hypermenorrhea.

    The menstrual cycle isn't the same for every woman. Normal menstrual flow occurs about every 28 days, lasts four to five days and produces a total blood loss of 60 to 250 milliliters (4 tablespoons to about 1 cup). Your period may be regular or irregular, light or heavy, painful or pain-free, long or short and still be considered normal.

    Although about one-third of premenopausal women complain of heavy menstrual bleeding, only one in 10 women experience blood loss severe enough to be defined as Menorrhagia. Some women with Menorrhagia often find it necessary to miss time at work, school or social activities, due to the severity of their symptoms.

    Complications

    Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding can lead to other medical conditions, including:

    • Iron deficiency anemia. In this common type of anemia, your blood is low on healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen to tissues. Oxygentated blood gives your body energy and your skin a healthy color. Menorrhagia is the most common cause of anemia in premenopausal women. About one in 10 women in their reproductive years have iron deficiencies, some of them with iron levels low enough to cause anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is due to insufficient iron. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen.

    • Although diet plays a role in such cases, the problem is complicated by heavy menstrual periods. Most cases of anemia are mild, but even mild anemia can cause weakness and fatigue. Moderate to severe anemia can also cause shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, lightheadedness, headaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), irritability, pale skin, restless legs syndrome and mental confusion. Heart problems can occur in prolonged and severe anemia that's left untreated. Pregnant women who are anemic, particularly in the first trimester, have an increased risk of a poor pregnancy outcome.

    • Severe pain. Heavy menstrual bleeding often is accompanied by menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Although most women choose at-home treatment for the menstrual pain that menorrhagia can bring, others may have more severe pain and need to seek medical relief through prescription medication or a surgical procedure.

    • Infertility. Many conditions associated with menstrual irregularities, including heavy bleeding, ovulation abnormalities, uterine fibroids and endometriosis, are major contributors to female infertility. Irregular periods from any cause may make it more difficult to conceive.

    • Toxic shock syndrome. Keeping tampons in place for more that eight hours increases the risk of infection and toxic shock syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition caused by bacteria that adhere to tampons and produce toxins. Symptoms include very high fever, diarrhea, sore throat and extreme weakness. A peeling rash may develop usually on the hands and feet. Blood pressure may drop to dangerous levels.

  • Diarrhea

  • Headache

  • Menorrhagia > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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