The occasional prolonged and heavy menstrual period isn’t terribly unusual.
However when the “off” months become more regular it may be worth your time to speak with a professional about whether your experiences could be classified as menorrhagia.
Menorrhagia can mean that periods are painful and draining, but once you identify the condition there are menstrual health solutions that can help.
At this moment you may have a few questions buzzing around in your head.
What is menorrhagia?
How do I know if I have it?
What are some natural solutions for menorrhagia?
Keep reading and find out.
What is Menorrhagia?
Menorrhagia is when your menstrual periods have unusually high levels of bleeding for a prolonged amount of time.
By definition, it’s when you have blood loss greater than 08ml (2-3 ounces or about 1/4th cup) at your regular time each month, and have a flow longer than 7 days.
According to statistics from the Centers For Disease Control, more than 10 million people in the US deal with menorrhagia, and there’s no reason to believe the stats in Canada would be terribly different.
What are the Symptoms of Menorrhagia?
There are numerous symptoms of menorrhagia.
Many of them deal directly with the amount of blood monthly.
Others are your body’s reaction to this blood loss.
Common Symptoms include:
• Passing blot clots larger than a quarter
• Having to change sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours
• Bleeding for longer than 7 days
• Restricting daily routines due to uncomfortably heavy menstrual flow
• Waking up nightly to change sanitary protection
• Having to wear twice the amount of sanitary protection
• Tiredness, Fatigue, shortness of breath and other symptoms of anemia from blood loss
What Causes Menorrhagia?
There are a number of causes that are linked to menorrhagia.
Potential causes may include:
• Medications: some medications such as anti-inflammatories and anticoagulants can contribute to the symptoms of menorrhagia.
• Use of Nonhormonal Intrauterine Devices (IUD).
• Hormone Imbalance: when the balance between the hormones estrogen and progesterone is compromised the endometrium may overdevelop and will create a heavy bleeding as it sheds.
• Conditions linked to hormone imbalance such as obesity, thyroid problems and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
• Polyps and Uterine Fibroids: small growths on the lining of the uterus
• Dysfunction of the ovaries
• Uterine and cervical cancer
• Bleeding disorders: some inherited bleeding disorders can contribute to menstrual bleeding.
• Pregnancy complications: complications such as unusual locations for placenta growth and miscarriage may trigger excessive bleeding.
• Adenomyosis: a condition that occurs when glands from the endometrium fuse with the uterine muscle.
• Indirectly related medical conditions: Liver or kidney disease may also be linked to symptoms of menorrhagia.
Causes of menorrhagia are often linked to conditions that either alter the physiology of your uterus, or the hormonal balance of your body.
Natural Solutions For Menorrhagia
In a 2005 survey of 653 women with menorrhagia, between the ages of 35 and 39, 58% of them did not speak to their health care provider about their condition.
As researchers turn their attention more closely to menstrual health problems, and cultural taboos about menstruation are lifting, research on the cause of, and solutions for, menorrhagia, is finally developing.
Along with medical solutions there are also a number of natural treatments that can complement your treatment plan.
Here are a few options.
1. Address the Root Cause
It is important to get to the root of what is triggering menorrhagia within each individual patient.
Once you know the cause of your menorrhagia, it’s much easier to create an effective treatment plan.
For example if your condition is triggered by a growth on your uterus, you’ll need a different treatment as someone whose menorrhagia is caused by an inherited bleeding disorder.
From finding the root of the cause we can now look at what natural solution may be the most beneficial.
Traditionally menorrhagia is linked to causes such as inflammation, iron deficiency and hormone imbalance.
Read on to see which natural solutions work best for your cause of menorrhagia.
So it comes as no surprise that it has been suggested as a solution for menstrual issues as well.
From 2009 to 2015 multiple studies on using ginger orally to assist patients with dysmenorrhea, a condition characterized by pain in the lower abdominal region before or during menstruation, suggested ginger was found to aid greatly in the reduction of pain severity.
In these trials the ginger was ingested as a dry powder capsule ranging from 750 mg to 2,000 mg.
While this concentration seemed to be most effective in the tests, sipping ginger tea is also recommended as a pain management aid.
The main draw from ginger is its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Menstrual cramping and lower abdomen pain are made less severe when the body breaks down the anti-inflammatory enzyme zingibain found in ginger.
If the root cause of your menorrhagia is linked to inflammation, ginger is something to consider working into your diet.
As one of the more widely known vitamins, vitamin C can be a great aid in reducing excessive menstrual bleeding.
On its own, vitamin C can increase iron absorbency.
This increased absorption is great news for those who deal with menorrhagia induced anemia.
As bleeding is increased with menorrhagia, it’s common to become tired and fatigued.
Vitamin C can aid in reducing the amount of iron lost through menstrual bleeding by helping it to absorb more easily into the body.
Vitamin C can also have additional benefits when paired with bioflavonoids.
Bioflavonoids can be found in common foods such as oranges, berries and green tea.
When bioflavnoids are combined with vitamin C in the body, they work together to keep capillaries from becoming weak.
In one study vitamin C and bioflavnoids were found to aid 16 out of 18 women with the volume of their bleeding.
Low iron is a common symptom as well as cause of menorrhagia.
Over time low iron can lead to fatigue.
Supplementing your diet with iron rich foods has been linked to both increased energy levels and decreased levels of menstrual bleeding.
Upping your iron intake is a great way to combat blood loss during monthly periods.
Try combining an increased iron intake with vitamin c and bioflavonoids – as these two help the body to absorb iron levels.
Vitex agnus castus, more commonly known as chaste tree or chasteberry, is popular in Europe as a treatment for hormonal imbalance and excessive bleeding in women.
It works by having a progesterone-like effect on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
It also inhibits FSH release, which alters the ratio of estrogen and progesterone in the body.
Not only for menorrhagia, chasteberry has been used as a treatment for numerous other menstrual issues as well, including PMS.
It is also a natural solution that requires long periods of intake before results are seen.
Be sure to speak with your naturopathic doctor before taking chasteberry.
Book An Appointment with Annex Naturopathic
If after reading this you suspect you may be dealing with menorrhagia, be sure to reach out to book an appointment with Annex Naturopathic.
We’ll pair you with a naturopathic doctor best suited to your needs.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND