“Heavy bleeding is very common and is a major issue we see in the office,” says Neely Dean, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist at Piedmont Newnan Hospital. “I would say about 10 to 35 percent of patients suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding.”
Many patients do not realize their periods are heavy until they discuss their menstrual cycle with their physician. A normal menstrual cycle lasts four to seven days. Any longer than that is considered a prolonged cycle.
Signs of heavy bleeding include:
- Needing to change your sanitary pad or tampon every hour for two to three hours in a row
- Soiling your clothes
- Needing to get up in the middle of the night to change your pad or tampon
- Passing large clots
Heavy menstrual bleeding can cause:
- Avoidance of social activities and sex
- Missed workdays
There can be several causes of heavy menstrual bleeding, including:
- Anatomical, such as uterine fibroids.
- Metabolic, such as an overgrowth of the endometrial lining.
- Hereditary, like a blood coagulation disorder, which affects the blood’s ability to clot.
“Once we identify the cause, we formulate a treatment plan for the patient,” says Dr. Dean.
Treatment options include hormonal methods, such as contraceptives; hormone-free medications; and surgical procedures. A woman who does not wish to have any other children may be a candidate for an endometrial ablation procedure called NovaSure.
“We perform NovaSure in the office and it is an outpatient procedure,” she says. “Doing it in the office allows the patient to be back on her feet usually a day or two after the procedure. [Patients] do not require general anesthesia and we control their pain in the office.”
Approximately 70 to 80 percent of patients treated with NovaSure have a normal period cycle, but no longer experience heavy bleeding. The other 20 to 30 percent no longer have a period at all.
“Most patients are very satisfied with the NovaSure ablation procedure and feel like they’ve gain a big part of their life back after having it,” she says.
“It’s important for a woman to talk with her physician about her menstrual cycle,” says Dr. Dean. “[Patients can] benefit from treatment and feel better so they can lead an active lifestyle instead of struggling with heavy bleeding.”
If you experience any of the above symptoms, talk to your physician. He or she can counsel you on your best treatment options. To find a physician near you, visit Piedmont.org.