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Menorrhagia
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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.

    Treatment

    Specific treatment for menorrhagia is based on a number of factors, including:

    • Your overall health and medical history

    • The extent of the condition

    • The cause of the condition

    •  Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies

    • Your doctor's expectations for how the condition will progress

    • Effects of the condition on your lifestyle

    • Your opinion or personal preference

    Drug therapy for menorrhagia may include:

    • Iron supplements. If the condition is accompanied by anemia, your doctor may recommend that you take iron supplements regularly. If your iron levels are low but you're not yet anemic, you may be started on iron supplements rather than waiting until you become anemic.

    • Prostaglandin inhibitors. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) to help reduce cramping and blood flow.

    • Oral contraceptives. Aside from providing effective birth control, oral contraceptives can help regulate ovulation and reduce episodes of excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding.

    • Progesterone. The hormone progesterone can help correct hormonal imbalance and reduce menorrhagia.

    If you have drug-induced menorrhagia from taking hormone medication, you and your doctor may be able to treat the condition by changing or stopping your medication.

    You may need surgical treatment for menorrhagia if drug therapy is unsuccessful. Treatment options include:

    • Dilation and curettage (D and C). In this procedure, your doctor opens (dilates) your cervix and then scrapes or suctions tissue from the lining of your uterus to reduce menstrual bleeding. Although this procedure is common and often treats menorrhagia successfully, you may need the procedure repeated if menorrhagia recurs.

    • Operative hysteroscopy. This procedure uses a hysteroscope to view your uterine cavity and can aid in the surgical removal of a polyp that may be causing increased menstrual bleeding.

    • Endometrial ablation. Using a laser, electrocautery instrument or thermal balloon, the entire lining of your uterus is permanently removed or destroyed. After endometrial ablation, you should have little or no menstrual flow, although some women resume menstrual flow after considerable time has passed since the procedure. Endometrial ablation affects your ability to become pregnant.

    • Endometrial resection. This surgical procedure uses an electrosurgical wire loop to remove the lining of the uterus. Both endometrial ablation and endometrial resection benefit women who have very heavy menstrual bleeding but don't have other underlying uterine problems such as large fibroids, polyps or cancer. Like endometrial ablation, this procedure affects your ability to become pregnant.

    • Hysterectomy. This surgical removal of the uterus and cervix is a permanent procedure that causes sterility and cessation of menstrual periods. You'll need general anesthesia and hospitalization. Additional removal of the ovaries (total hysterectomy) may cause premature menopause in younger women. Because hysterectomy is permanent, be sure of this treatment before going ahead with surgery.

    Except for hysterectomy, these surgical procedures are usually done on an outpatient basis. Although you'll usually need a general anesthetic, it's likely that you can go home the same day.

  • menopause

  • Menorrhagia > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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