Embarrassing Question: Dealing with heavy menstrual flow

Embarrasing question: My period is so bad that super absorbent pads or tampons get seem to get soaked very quickly. Is there anything I can do? Could something be wrong?

Anita Saha, M.D. is Obstetrician/Gynecologist at Temple Physicians, Temple University Health System's network of community-based physicians with offices located throughout the Philadelphia region.

Everyone’s menstrual flow is different. Some people have very light periods while other people have very heavy periods.  There are many reasons that someone could have heavy periods. Among the most common are hormonal; fibroids, benign growths in the uterine muscle; polyps, overgrowths of the lining of the uterus; and abnormal thyroid functions. 

People with heavy periods should have an initial evaluation by a gynecologist to make sure there is not something present causing the heavy flow that is easily correctable. People with heavy periods tend to be anemic, a lower blood count, than other women. Your doctor will probably also test your blood count and determine if you need iron supplementation.

The options are limited in terms of what you can do on their own. You can avoid taking aspirin or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) during your period. These medications have slight blood thinning properties and can increase menstrual flow. 

Most people need the assistance of a gynecologist to control their menstrual flow. Medical options include oral or injectable hormones, the progesterone intrauterine system (Mirena), and a non-hormonal medication called tranexamic acid (Lysteda). If you are found to have a structural cause for heavy bleeding, you may need a surgical procedure.

You should be evaluated by a gynecologist if your periods concern you, if they have changed in volume, or if you feel dizzy or weak during your periods.

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