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Causes of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding & Natural Treatments

That notorious “time of the month” is something that adult women of all ages and backgrounds are very familiar with. There are many dietary and lifestyle factors that can affect the flow of a woman’s period, but chronically heavy periods could be the sign of a more serious medical condition.

Photo credit: D.A. Majors via Flickr

In this article, we look at the causes of heavy menstrual bleeding and natural remedies to make the condition more bearable for women.

Causes of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Heavy menstruation isn’t just an inconvenience; it’s a medical condition known as menorrhagia. The condition is characterized by soaking through a tampon or pad in less than an hour on a regular basis. The symptoms can also include bleeding that lasts longer than a week, passing large blood clots, and overall fatigue and weakness. Adolescent girls who just started their periods and older women who are approaching menopause tend to be most at risk of heavy bleeding.

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These are some of the most common causes of heavy bleeding:

  • Hormone imbalance
  • Polyps (benign growths on the lining of the uterus)
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Dysfunctional ovaries
  • Certain birth control methods like IUDs
  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Poor diet
  • Some generalized bleeding disorders
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Medications you are taking

Risks of Heavy Periods

Not only do heavy periods get in the way of everyday life, but they can also create new health problems that didn’t exist before. For example, one common condition caused by heavy periods is iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiencies come with many side effects, including fatigue, dizziness, paleness, lack of concentration, and mood swings.

Treatment Options for Women

To diagnose heaving menorrhagia, blood tests are typically performed to look for other conditions that often accompany the condition. A pap test taken at a gynecological visit and an endometrial biopsy may also help to make the diagnosis. Ultrasound tests and hysteroscopy exams can be useful in some cases as well.

Oral contraceptives are sometimes recommended to reduce excess bleeding by preventing ovulation and thinning the endometrium. However, birth control doesn’t fit within everyone’s lifestyle and beliefs, and it can sometimes even make the bleeding even worse.

Ibuprofen and other types of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be taken to reduce blood loss through menstruation and relive menstrual cramps as well.  In severe cases, surgical procedures, like uterine artery embolization and myomectomy may be discussed. Hormone therapy, fibroid removal, and hysterectomy are also options for women to discuss with their doctors.

Natural Remedies to Try

But before recommending any drastic measures, many doctors recommend iron and vitamin C supplements to women who have heavy periods. Foods rich in these nutrients, including seafood, spinach, broccoli, and grapefruit, are recommended for the diet. Magnesium-rich foods like bananas, yogurt, and avocados can be beneficial for controlling this condition too. Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy that has helped women with heavy flows.

Photo credit: Mike Mozart

To ease the symptoms of heavy periods, women can also try applying an ice pack to the abdomen during particularly heavy or painful times. Blackstrap molasses, a natural remedy that’s a byproduct of refining sugarcane, can be added to warm milk, water, or tea to help control heavy bleeding. Additional natural remedies that have helped some women control their flow include red raspberry leaves, cayenne pepper, coriander seeds, ginger, and cinnamon. In addition to cooking with more all-natural spices, foods rich in omega-3, such as fish oils and flax seed oil may be beneficial for overall wellness and balance.

If the condition persists after trying several of these remedies, it may be time to consult a medical professional for testing. This is recommended if excessive bleeding occurs in all consecutive periods, if thick blood clots appear for multiple days, and if the heavy periods are accompanied by other unexplained symptoms.

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