Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Symptoms and Treatment

woman sitting on bedHeavy menstrual bleeding (called menorrhagia by health care professionals) is defined as soaking a pad and/or tampon every hour or less during each menstrual cycle. For many women, heavy menstrual bleeding is a huge obstacle to their lifestyles. Have you ever had to reschedule an activity around your menstrual period? Then, you know the toll it can take. You may not know that heavy bleeding can be more than a schedule buster. The heavy bleeding can also lead to iron-deficient anemia, the most common health-related threat of menorrhagia. While most cases of anemia are easily treated with oral iron supplements, sometimes the bleeding is so severe a woman's entire volume of blood drops, leading to shortness of breath, severe fatigue and heart palpitations that require hospitalization.

Treatment Considerations

Lifestyle Options

There are several options you may want to try to reduce your heavy menstrual bleeding. These include:

  • Ice packs. Put an ice pack on your abdomen for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day when bleeding is especially heavy.
  • Vitamins.Try vitamin C supplements to help your body absorb iron and possibly strengthen blood vessels.
  • Iron. Some research suggests low iron levels can increase menstrual bleeding, and that supplementing with the mineral can reduce menstrual bleeding.

Always check with your health care professional before taking any medication—this includes taking herbal remedies and nutritional supplements—for managing health conditions or for general health and wellness concerns.

Medical Options

Most health care professional will recommend a medical therapy first before moving on to other, more invasive recommendations, if you have heavy menstrual bleeding and need relief. The following options are medical therapies your health care professional might discuss with you, depending on your personal health history.