Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Heavy menstrual bleeding (also called menorrhagia) is excessive menstrual blood loss that interferes with a woman's quality of life.

  • Causes

    In some cases, the cause is not known. However, many conditions have been associated with menorrhagia, such as:

    • Uterine fibroid
    • Bleeding disorder (eg, von Willebrand disease)
    • Hormonal imbalance
    • Cervical or endometrial polyp
    • Ovarian cyst
    • Certain medicines
    • Intrauterine device (IUD)

  • Definition

    Heavy menstrual bleeding (also called menorrhagia) is excessive menstrual blood loss that interferes with a woman's quality of life.

    Menstrual Flow
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical examination, including a pelvic exam, will be done. Tests may include:

    • Pap test
    • Blood tests
    • Transvaginal ultrasound
    • Endometrial biopsy (removal of a sample of endometrial tissue)
    • Dilation and curettage (scraping of the inner lining of the uterus)
    • Hysteroscopy (examination of the cervix and fallopian tubes)

  • Prevention

    There are no specific steps to prevent this condition.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase the risk of menorrhagia include:

    • Being an adolescent
    • Approaching menopause

  • Symptoms

    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)

  • Treatment

    Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the heavy menstrual bleeding. Your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan.