Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Heavy menstrual bleeding (also called menorrhagia) is excessive menstrual blood loss that interferes with a woman's quality of life.
In some cases, the cause is not known. However, many conditions have been associated with menorrhagia, such as:
Factors that may increase your chances of menorrhagia include:
- Approaching menopause
Symptoms of menorrhagia include:
- Menstrual bleeding lasting more than seven days
- Unusually heavy bleeding (soaking through a sanitary napkin or tampon every hour)
- Menstrual flow requiring change of sanitary protection during the night
- Menstrual flow including large clots
- Menstrual flow interfering with lifestyle
- Fatigue and/or shortness of breath (symptoms of anemia)
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical examination, including a pelvic exam, will be done. Tests may include:
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the heavy menstrual bleeding. Your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan.
Your doctor may recommend:
- Hormonal therapy
- An IUD that releases the hormone progesterone
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Iron supplement
There are no current guidelines to prevent heavy menstrual bleeding.
Office on Women's Health
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The Canadian Women's Health Network
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Apgar B, Kaufman A, et al. Treatment of menorrhagia. Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(12):1813-1819.
Heavy menstrual bleeding. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 7, 2013. Accessed August 18, 2014.
Menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding). Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/basics/definition/con-20021959. Updated July 2, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2014.
11/20/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: FDA approves Lysteda to treat heavy menstrual bleeding. United States Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm190551.htm. Updated April 16, 2013. Accessed August 18, 2014.
Last reviewed August 2014 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.