Many women suffer from heavy periods. The medical term for periods with excessive flow is menorrhagia. Periods lasting for more than 7 days are also considered abnormal. There are many causes for abnormal bleeding, such as fibroid tumors, uterine polyps, overgrowth of the endometrial lining and disorders of blood clotting. Some women may still have heavy bleeding despite having a normal uterine structure. This is called dysfunctional uterine bleeding. There are many treatments for this condition. The most common treatment involves the use of hormones, like in the oral contraceptive pill.
Medical Treatment of Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding/Menorrhagia There are several medical treatments for heavy uterine bleeding. Most involve the use of hormones. This is often used by women who wish to retain their fertility and can be effective in decreasing bleeding without the need for surgery. The most common is to use the oral contraceptive pill. The oral contraceptive pill will decrease the amount of flow in a woman’s period. It will also decrease the total number of days of flow. The pill is safe and has few side effects. There are several women who are not candidates for the oral contraceptive pill. Women who smoke are encouraged not to take the pill. Women with breast cancer or undiagnosed abnormal uterine bleeding are also cautioned against taking the pill. Some women who are not candidates for the oral contraceptive pill may be advised to take cyclic progesterone. When a woman takes progesterone she will use it only in the second half of the cycle. She will take this hormone from day 15 -25 of her menstrual cycle. Progesterone helps to thin the lining of the uterus and make the menses less heavy.
Surgical Treatment of Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding Dysfunctional uterine bleeding is when nothing is structurally wrong with the uterus but the woman continues to have trouble with heavy flow, flooding and clotting. The least invasive surgery to treat this problem is called endometrial ablation. This procedure may be performed under general or regional anesthesia. It requires an instrument to view the uterus (hysteroscope) and an energy source. The procedure typically is finished in less than an hour and the patient may return home the same day. Most women will return to work in 2-3 days. This method will ablate or destroy the lining of the uterus in an effort to reduce bleeding. This method will reduce heavy bleeding approximately 85% of the time. Some women will have a complete elimination of bleeding. This procedure is not an option if you still want to have children because the uterine lining is destroyed during therapy. Most women can expect to return to work and family commitments the next day. Most patient will have a pink, watery or bloody discharge for 2 weeks but it may occur for as long as a month. Risks of this procedure include bleeding, infection, uterine perforation or fluid overload (which can affect the heart.)
Many women undergo hysterectomy to provide a cure from excessive uterine bleeding. Hysterectomy is removal of the uterus. The uterus can be removed with the cervix for a total hysterectomy, or the top of the uterus may be removed for a supracervical hysterectomy. A total hysterectomy is often performed through a bikini incision. Patients will usually stay in the hospital for 2-3 days and a 6 weeks recovery is recommended. There is a hysterectomy that is commonly performed by Women’s Health Specialists that is less invasive and requires less hospitalization and recovery time. You can get more information on this under “Minimally Invasive Surgery”