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What is menorrhagia?

Menorrhagia, the most common type of abnormal uterine bleeding, is associated with heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding. With menorrhagia, every menstrual period involves extensive blood loss and cramping, resulting in the interruption of daily activity. If you experience heavy periods that become invasive to your life, you should talk to your doctor about treatment options.

Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms related to Menorrhagia include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Bleeding for longer than a week
  • Restrictions of daily routine due to increased bleeding
  • Soaking through sanitary products every hour
  • Spotting or bleeding between periods

Risk factors

While the exact cause of menorrhagia is unknown, there are a number of causes and risk factors, including:

  • Hormone imbalance
  • Dysfunction of the ovaries
  • Fibroids
  • Polyps—Small, benign growths on the lining of the uterus can cause heavy or prolonged bleeding during your menstrual cycle. Polyps typically occur in women of reproductive age due to high hormone levels
  • Adenomyosis—A condition where endometrial tissue grows and exists within the uterine wall that can result in heavy bleeding
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)—The use of a non-hormonal IUD for birth control can lead to excessive bleeding
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Cancer—In rare cases, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and cervical cancer can lead to excessive menstrual bleeding
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

How is it diagnosed?

After ruling out other menstrual disorders, medical conditions and abnormalities, your doctor may perform the following tests to diagnose menorrhagia:

  • Medical history
  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Pap test—A Pap test involves the microscopic examination of cells from the cervix. This test is used to identify irregularities, such as infection or inflammation
  • Endometrial biopsy—During this procedure, tissue samples are removed from the uterus and examined to uncover abnormal cells
  • Hysteroscopy—A visual exam of the interior of the uterus and the canal of the cervix
  • Ultrasound

Treatment options

Treatment options for menorrhagia can vary and your doctor will examine a number of factors to determine the suitable one for you. Possible treatments include:

  • Dilation and curettage (D&C)
  • Endometrial ablation
  • Hysterectomy
  • Fibroid embolization
  • Myomectomy
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