• Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

    (Menorrhagia; Hypermenorrhea)


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

    Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chances of menorrhagia include:


    Symptoms of menorrhagia include:
    • Menstrual bleeding lasting more than 7 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)

    When Should I Call My Doctor?

    Call your doctor if you have symptoms of menorrhagia.


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


    Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the heavy menstrual bleeding. Treatments may include:


    The doctor may advise:
    • Hormonal therapy
    • An IUD that releases the hormone progesterone
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Iron supplement

    Surgical Procedures

    In some cases, surgery may be needed, such as:
    • Dilation and curettage
    • Operative hysteroscopy—may be used along with other tools to remove a polyp
    • Removal of the lining of the uterus—endometrial ablation
    • Removal of the uterus—hysterectomy


    There are no current guidelines to prevent heavy menstrual bleeding.


    The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org

    Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services http://www.womenshealth.gov


    The Canadian Women's Health Network http://www.cwhn.ca

    The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org


    Abnormal uterine bleeding. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T361089/Abnormal-uterine-bleeding. Updated February 18, 2017. Accessed September 12, 2017.

    Apgar B, Kaufman A, et al. Treatment of menorrhagia. Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(12):1813-1819.

    11/20/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: FDA approves Lysteda to treat heavy menstrual bleeding. United States Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T361089/Abnormal-uterine-bleeding. Accessed September 12, 2017.

    Revision Information

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