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Heavy Periods: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Dec 28, 2021

What is the treatment?

Heavy menstrual bleeding or menorrhagia is associated with the soaking of a tampon or pad every hour or less than that during every menstrual cycle. For women, heavy periods are a huge impediment to their usual lifestyle. This is not the only problem related to heavy menstrual bleeding. It is more than just a schedule buster. This can also lead to iron-deficient anemia which is the most common threat related to heavy periods. It is true that most cases of iron deficiency are treated with oral iron supplements, on the other hand there is another fact that severe vaginal bleeding in women makes her entire volume of blood drop, causing severe fatigue, heart palpitations and shortness of breath that require immediate hospitalization. Most health care specialists suggest a medical therapy before moving to other alternatives which are generally more invasive, in case of a need of relief from heavy periods. Depending on your medical history, your doctor will discuss with you certain medical therapies.

There are a few medical options available for the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding. These include the intake of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, progestin, oral contraceptives, danazol, intrauterine device (IUD), and gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRH agonists). Surical options comprise of hysterectomy, and endometrial ablation.

How much blood is in a heavy period?

In a normal menstrual cycle, the blood loss which occurs is usually less than 80 ml equivalent to sixteen teaspoonfuls of blood or it is considered as six to eight teaspoons on average. In the case of Heavy Periods, the amount of blood loss that occurs usually equals 80 ml or even more with the average duration of periods being equal to seven days or even more than that in certain cases.

Summary: Heavy period is related to an abnormal loss of blood during periods in women. During a normal menstrual cycle, less than 80 ml of blood loss takes place, while in case of heavy abnormal periods, the amount of blood loss exceeds the normal margin and occurs for a prolonged duration.

How is the treatment done?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which involve ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) are known to work by bringing down the level of prostaglandins which are hormone-like chemicals that disrupts the clotting of blood. Studies have found that they reduce the blood flow to an average of 25 – 35 percent. Danazol on the other hand, is a male testosterone that works by blocking the estrogen action in your body. As a result your periods will stop in four to six weeks.

The majority of women facing heavy periods do not need a vaginal hysterectomy, still there are many women who opt for this surgical methodology which is also a frequent recommendation by specialists as a treatment option. This procedure is characterized by the removal of uterus and as a result the periods stop. While this procedure is quite effective in ending the menstrual bleeding, hysterectomy is a huge surgical procedure that requires hospitalization and several weeks of recuperation. In addition, this process is linked with multiple complications (infection being the most common out of all). In such a case, you must fully consult your health care provider to explain the potential risks and benefits associated to the surgery, along with how the process is carried out. Though certain women prefer hysterectomy to all the remaining surgical processes, you must be fully assured by understanding all the available options before making a choice.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

A woman with a normal sized uterus is eligible for the surgical procedure of vaginal hysterectomy. Women who do not want to have children in future are eligible for receiving both the medical and surgical treatment.


Who is not eligible for the treatment?

A woman who has a large sized uterus is not eligible for the surgical procedure of vaginal hysterectomy. Girls under the age of 18 are precluded from receiving the treatment. Women who are planning to have a family in future and bear children are also precluded from receiving the treatment. Patients with an underlying medical condition which is still untreated are not eligible for the treatment.

Are there any side effects?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs help to reduce pain. But some of the side-effects of using these drugs are indigestion and other gut problems, headaches, dizziness and drowsiness. On the other hand, the side effects of the surgical procedure include infection, injury to nearby organs, heavy bleeding, pain during intercourse, early menopause (in case the ovaries are removed), blood clot in the lungs or legs, and breathing or heart problems.

When should you go to the hospital for Heavy Periods?

Periods are part of our normal physiological body functioning but in some cases however it may become a matter of concern and in such cases a need for consultation with a doctor is important. Heavy menstrual flow is concerning in many ways. It can cause anemia. It may also be accompanied by symptoms like weakness, dizziness, pain in the chest, or difficulty in breathing. Hypovolemia may occur in rare conditions which are accompanied by symptoms like increased rate of heartbeat, a drop in blood pressure, and fainting. These conditions require medical attention.

Summary: Periods are normal human physiology. But in case of any pathology, such as when abnormal bleeding takes place during menstruation or there is an irregularity in the commencement of periods, it becomes important to consult a gynaecologist.

Can you bleed to death from a heavy period?

Heavy menstrual flow may lead to serious complications such as deaths in some women. This can be due to endometriosis. In case endometriosis occurs, heavy blood loss is evident in such women which is consistent with the appearance of symptoms like severe pain and abdominal discomfort. Consultation with a specialist is imperative in such cases to minimize the symptoms by reducing the heavy bleeding.

Summary: Heavy period is accompanied by a heavy loss of blood during menstruation. Due to this, serious symptoms including anemia, weakness, dizziness, palpitations, and difficulty in breathing may occur. These symptoms are dangerous to health and may prove to be fatal.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Be sure to follow the instructions of your health care provider. Your gynecologist will advise you to take proper rest, but you also need to move here and there as often as you can. Taking short walks and increasing the distance of your walks gradually will prove beneficial after the surgical treatment. Your doctor will ask you to strictly avoid lifting heavy objects until he finally allows you to do so. You must not put anything in your vagina for the first 6 weeks. This includes sexual intercourse, douching, and the usage of tampons. After full recovery, you should regularly visit your gynecologist for general health care tips and routine examinations. Depending on the reason behind the surgical process, there may a need of cervical cancer screening and pelvic exams.

How long does it take to recover?

Treatment through medications will be comparatively longer than that of surgery. It may take 4 to 6 weeks to recover from medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. You are likely to be asleep during the whole surgical process and will spend the next 48 hours in the hospital. A significant pain will be felt for the first 24 hours followed by a mild pain for the next 10 days. It usually takes 4 weeks for full recovery from this surgery.

How long should a heavy period last?

Heavy Periods, commonly referred to as menorrhagia, is an abnormal condition in which heavy blood loss occurs in a woman which is a pathological condition. In normal conditions, the duration of menstrual bleeding is six to seven days on average. However, in the condition of menorrhagia, the duration of heavy menstrual flow is more than seven days accompanied by severe abdominal discomfort and pain.

Summary: The length of a normal period is considered to be six days on average. This duration gets prolonged in case of any pathology or abnormal menstruation. Hence, the length of a heavy period is more than seven days which is concerning.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost of the surgical procedure ranges between Rs. 1,50,000 to Rs. 1,85,000. On the other hand, the cost of medications ranges between Rs. 50 to Rs. 500.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Only the result for the surgical process will be permanent. Treatment through medications and drugs is more likely to cause a relapse. You may undergo heavy menstrual bleeding again if the lifestyle measures are not altered from the previous ones.

What foods stop Heavy Periods?

Conditions of Heavy Periods usually undergo treatment by inducing hormonal therapy, surgery, or certain medications. However, in some conditions, the condition can be controlled by effective diet changes. One such diet change includes the incorporation of iron in our regular diet which is important for the control and prevention of conditions like anemia. Some of the iron-rich foods include meat, nuts, seafood, nuts, beans, fruits like apples, and green as well as leafy vegetables. Vitamin c rich foods like oranges, broccoli, and bell peppers should also be taken in order to increase the absorption of iron in our bodies.

Summary: Dietary intake has a big role to play when the health of a woman is taken into consideration. Hence, it is important to know about the food items which can effectively control Heavy Periods. Some of those include meat, nuts, seafood, green and leafy vegetables, vitamin C sources, and fresh fruits like apples.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are a number of home remedies and natural treatments available for menorrhagia. These include cinnamon (preparation of tea by steeping a cinnamon stick in boiling water and having it each morning), mustard seeds (the intake of mustard powder with milk each morning before or during the menstrual cycle), consumption of food items induced with omega-3 (flaxseed oil and fish), and licorice (consumption of licorice powder with water daily for 4-5 days).

Conclusion: Periods are part of our normal physiological body functioning but in some cases, it may become a matter of concern and in such cases a need for consultation with a doctor is important. Heavy menstrual flow in some cases may lead to conditions like anemia, accompanied by symptoms like weakness, dizziness, pain in the chest, or difficulty in breathing.


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Written ByDr. Shazli Azad Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS)Gynaecology
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