Menorrhagia is a medical term for heavy menstrual cycles or periods. Menorrhagia is defined by a period that last longer than seven days resulting in changing protection, such as pads or tampons every one to three hours, or shows a loss of blood called anemia.
There are many reasons for heavy periods, but more commonly, these are caused by not ovulating monthly. This causes chaotic periods, anatomic issues, such as uterine fibroids or endometrial polyps, or bleeding disorders where a body does not clot blood normally.
Although these are often felt as being an annoyance, there are health risks to heavy periods and this can affect a person’s quality of life greatly. The workup for heavy periods usually consists of an office exam, and most often will also result in an ultrasound and possible endomterial biopsy.
The ultrasound is to rule out anatomic problems, and the biopsy is to rule out pathology, such as pre-cancerous changes. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the treatment is based on the diagnosis, but in the absence of significant pathology, the treatment options are numerous.
Medical therapy can consist of birth control pills, rings, patches, or injections. Two very common options are the Mirena IUD and endometrial ablation.
The Mirena IUD is a T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus very easily and can be done at a normal office visit. The IUD lasts five years and releases a very small dose of progesterone over time, which causes the lining of the uterus to thin, resulting in significantly decreased periods. Studies show that after four to six months of IUD use, a period is decreased by 80 percent.
There are very minimal side effects to this very cost-effective, minimally-invasive office procedure.
Endometrial ablation is also a popular, minimally-invasive office procedure to decrease menstrual flow.
This procedure uses a form of heat to destroy the lining of the uterus. This usually takes approximately eight minutes to perform and requires no anesthesia.
The studies on this minimally invasive option show a 30 to 70 percent chance of never having a period again. The patients who do bleed have an almost 90 percent reduction in bleeding and a 97 percent patient satisfaction rate.
With so many treatment options for heavy periods available, there is no reason why this condition should affect a person’s quality of life.
Contact us at OBGYN West, at (952) 249-2000 at the Delano clinic if you suffer from these conditions and are looking for a solution.