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Women > Reproduction > Menorrhagia

Hematomunia - Heavy Menstrual Periods

The menstrual cycle is regulated by the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that also controls body temperature, appetite and blood pressure. The hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary gland (located near the base of the brain) to release hormones that regulate female reproductive cycling. In order for a woman to have regular menstrual cycles, her hypothalamus and pituitary gland must be functioning properly. Her cervix and vagina must also be anatomically normal to allow the passage of menstrual flow.

A problem with any of these parts of the body may cause problems in your monthly period.

Menorrhagia, also called hypermenorrhea, is excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding, or bleeding between periods. Around 40ml of menstrual fluid is passed during the average period. For some women, the bleeding is excessively heavy (more than 80ml).

Symptoms of menorrhagia include:

Menstrual flows that soaks through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours
Need to change sanitary protection during the night
Menstrual period that lasts longer than 7 days
Menstrual flow that includes large blood clots
Bleeding or spotting between periods
Cramping and pain in the lower abdomen during menstrual period
Irregular menstrual periods
Tiredness, fatigue or shortness of breath

In most cases, the cause of heavy menstrual bleeding is unknown. But a number of the known conditions may include:

Hormonal imbalance (such as hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroxine)
Uterine fibroids and polyps
Infection (such as chlamydia or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Ovarian cysts
Endometriosis (i.e., the cells lining the uterus - endometrial cells - migrate to other areas of the body)
Dysfunction of the ovaries
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Pregnancy complications (i.e., ectopic pregnancy)
Abortion (either spontaneous –miscarriage - or induced)
Bleeding disorders (i.e., leukemia and Von Willebrand's disease)
Cancer (i.e., uterine cancer, ovarian cancer or cervical cancer)
Medications (i.e., hormonal contraceptives, anticoagulants and anti-inflammatory medications)
Alcohol or drugs
Other medical conditions (i.e., thyroid problems, lupus, liver or kidney disease, some uncommon blood disorders, and chemotherapy)

Suggestions on managing menorrhagia:

Get plenty of rest.
Avoid anticoagulants that may contribute to excessive bleeding (i.e., aspirin).
Eat a well balanced diet.
Take iron supplements to prevent anemia.
Consult with your health care provider, which may recommend medication, dilatation and curettage, change of contraception, surgery, treatment of underlying disorders, or hysterectomy.

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