Menstruation is best described as the monthly shedding of lining from the uterine wall, passing through the cervix and being expelled via the vagina. While it is common for minor pain, mood swings and other forms of discomfort to occur, some women will experience excessive pain (dysmenorrhea).
Heavy menstruation, also known as Menorrhagia, occurs when a woman experiences her monthly flow to such an extent that the situation demands a frequent change of sanitary pads over short periods.
In Australia, the numbers are compelling. Over 25 percent of Australian women experience heavy menstrual bleeding. An almost equal proportion of women in the country also complain of feeling pain and cramps, resulting from painful periods.
Signs/Symptoms of Heavy Periods.
The most common signs of Menorrhagia include the following:
1. Using one or more sanitary pads or tampons in quick succession for several consecutive hours;
2. Using double sanitary protection to contain your menstrual flow;
3. Waking up to change sanitary pads at night time; and
4. Continual bleeding that goes on for longer than several days.
Causes of Menorrhagia
The production of oestrogen and progesterone work together in regulating the build-up of the lining of the uterus. This lining breaks down and is shed once every month. If the balance between these hormones is interrupted, what results is an excessive buildup of the lining, which in turn leads to a heavy menstrual bleeding.
2. Presence of Uterine fibroids
Non-cancerous in nature, these tumours usually appear during the childbearing years of the average female. Uterine fibroids are known to cause heavy periodic flows.
Other common causes include Polyps, uterine cancer, and pregnancy complications among other factors.
Causes of Painful Menstruation or Periods
It is important to note that the hormone prostaglandin, triggers muscle contractions in the uterus. These contractions, if in excess, can lead to pain and inflammation.
The following conditions predispose one to painful periods or dysmenorrhea:
1. Premenstrual syndrome
This syndrome consists of symptoms that appear one to two weeks before the start of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It commonly disappears as soon as the monthly period starts.
This is a painful medical condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus grow in other parts of the body. The other places where these cells grow on include the fallopian tubes, ovaries as well as the tissues lining the pelvis.
3. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
PID is a sexually transmitted disease. It is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries caused by bacteria. It is characterized by an inflammation of the reproductive organs and pain.
The Australian medical establishment is confronting heavy and/or painful periods on a number of fronts. The first involves getting women to face up to either condition and seek medical help in good time.
Also, women are usually offered all the other options of treatment apart from invasive surgical interventions that may come with complications, including infection of the uterus. Surgery include hysterectomy and endometrial ablation-the removal of the inner lining of the uterus — as well as embarking on other uterine-preserving options.
The following are standard initial procedures for diagnosis:
1. Blood tests.
Evaluation for conditions such as iron deficiency (anemia), thyroid disorders as well as blood-clotting abnormalities.
2. Pap test.
Cells from the cervix are collected and tested for infection, inflammation or changes that may be cancerous or may lead to cancer.
3. Endometrial biopsy.
A health professional obtaining a sample of tissue from the inside of the uterus. A pathologist carries out a detailed analysis of the sample.
This method employs sound waves to produce images of the uterus, ovaries, and pelvis, to determine the nature and scope of the condition.
The health care professional, based on the tests results and the medical history of the patient in question, will determine the best course of treatment to take.
An increasing amount of emphasis has been placed on natural treatment paths in Australia, with the aforementioned procedures considered as a final resort. The following constitute the methods of intervening naturally. Natural treatments build on a change in lifestyle options, which are surmised as follows:
1. Regular Exercise.
Women are encouraged to reject a sedentary lifestyle and embrace regular mental and bodily exercise regimens. These exercises keep bodily organs in good shape and enhance strength and coordination. Specific workout activities such as Kegel exercises for women, target the pelvic region and the associated areas.
2. Ice packs.
During times of heavy or painful periods, experts advise putting ice packs on the abdomen for 20-minutes at a time, several times a day, during the peak of pain or heaviness.
3. Diet Changes.
Research links low iron levels engender menstrual bleeding. Eating foods rich in minerals strengthen the wall linings of the uterus and can minimize bleeding. Iron-rich foods include beans, lentils, leafy vegetables(spinach), whole-grain bread among others.
Upon the recommendation of a healthcare professional, regular intake of vitamin C complements the body’s ability to absorb iron, thereby strengthening blood vessels.
If you are suffering with heavy bleeding, you can make an appointment with Dr Kaur on 07 3839 0552.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.
Categorised in: Obstetrics
This post was written by Dr Anu Kaur