Excessive menstrual bleeding, either in quantity or duration, is something many women experience at some point in their lives. There are many reasons heavy menstrual bleeding can happen.

Heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) can cause a great deal of distress and discomfort. In its worst forms, HMB can prevent you from having a normal social and sexual life, or from being able to carry out your normal activities of daily living. Fortunately, there are many treatments available for the wide variety of conditions that cause HMB. If you are struggling to cope with the amount of bleeding you are experiencing, see your doctor.

What is considered heavy menstrual bleeding?

Normal menstrual bleeding is defined here. Heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) happens when you have:

  • Bleeding that lasts more than 7 days.
  • Bleeding that soaks through one or more tampons or pads every hour for several hours in a row.
  • Needing to wear more than one pad at a time to control menstrual flow.
  • Needing to change pads or tampons during the night.
  • Menstrual flow with blood clots that are as big as a quarter or larger.

Clinically, HMB (also called menorrhagia), is a loss of 80 mL of blood or more, in one cycle. You can use this ‘Pictorial Blood Assessment Chart‘ to help you determine if you are experiencing HMB. However, the experience of HMB is different for each woman, and your perception of your bleeding is more important than the actual amount of blood loss. If you feel your bleeding is more than you can reasonably manage, you have HMB. HMB can be difficult to cope with. It can disrupt your day-to-day life and cause you to miss out on activities you would otherwise participate in. It can cause difficulty concentrating, and reduce performance at school and at work. Younger girls and women may miss school, sports, or other social activities because of HMB. Anemia can result from the excess blood loss. Feeling tired, dizzy, light-headed, or having headaches and are common symptoms associated with HMB.

Recording the details of your period can help your doctor figure out the root cause of heavy bleeding. Documenting your periods in a ‘menstrual diary‘ is an important starting point. Your doctor will also want to know if you have a family history of HMB.

What are the causes of heavy menstrual bleeding?

Causes of HMB can be classified into several groups.

Fortunately, there are many treatments available for the wide variety of conditions that cause HMB.

It is important to know that in up to half of all cases, the cause of heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) cannot be identified. There are several options you may want to try to reduce your heavy menstrual bleeding.