DEFINITION--A fairly common disorder that is characterized by unusual heavy or
prolonged period of menstrual flow. The average amount of blood loss during a normal
menstrual period is about two ounces. With menorrhagia, a woman may lose three ounces or
more. It rarely signifies a serious underlying disorder.
BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Female reproductive system.
SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--Females from age 12 to 55.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Excessive menstrual flow (varies greatly from woman to woman).
- Menstrual period lasts for more than 7 days.
- Large clots of blood may pass.
- Paleness and fatigue (anemia).
- Imbalance of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone).
- Fibroids (benign uterine tumors).
- Pelvic infection.
- Endometrial disorder.
- Intrauterine device (IUD).
RISK INCREASES WITH
- Estrogen administration (without progestin).
- Young women who have not established a regular ovulation cycle.
- Women approaching menopause.
HOW TO PREVENT--To detect early signs of reproductive system disorders, have an
annual pelvic examination with a cervical smear test (Pap smear).
What To Expect
- Your own observation of symptoms.
- Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
- Special medical diagnostic tests (e.g., pregnancy test, endometrial biopsy, blood test)
to help determine cause of bleeding may be performed.
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE
- Treatment usually depends on age of woman, whether or not she wants children and on any
- Dilatation and curettage (D & C) may be performed.
- Hysterectomy may be considered in persistent cases where fertility is not desired.
- Anemia due to excessive blood loss.
- Surgery may be required.
- Varies with cause of bleeding.
- Patients with hormonal causes usually respond to treatment.
How To Treat
- Wear extra sanitary pads during excessive flow to prevent embarrassment.
- If using an IUD, consider a change to another method of contraception.
MEDICATION--Your doctor may prescribe:
- Hormone therapy to control bleeding.
- Other medications to control the bleeding, if hormones cannot be taken for some reason.
- Iron replacement therapy for anemia.
ACTIVITY--Reducing activities during menstruation and resting with feet up may
DIET--No special diet.
Call Your Doctor If
- You have signs or symptoms of menorrhagia.
- Symptoms worsen after treatment begins.
- New or unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may cause side effects.