Excessive vaginal bleeding is also called heavy menstrual periods which refer to menstrual bleeding being heavier or more prolonged than usual. Excessive menstrual bleeding occurs towards the cessation of the menstrual period, called menopause.
A heavy menstrual period may last for more than 7 days with a total amount of vaginal bleeding that is more than one third of a cup of 80 ml. Heavy menstrual periods occur in 10-20% of the women under the mentioned criteria.
Women having excessive vaginal bleeding may experience vaginal discharge and pelvic pain. Bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days may result in symptoms of anemia such as dizziness, fainting, faintness, heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath and pale skin.
If you report your condition to your health care provider, your doctor may treat excessive menstrual bleeding with birth control pills, hormone therapy, endometrial ablation procedures, dilation and curettage and hysterectomy.
Disclaimer: this post on excessive vaginal bleeding is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage serious medical emergencies, including sever bleeding, register for a first aid and CPR course.
Causes of excessive vaginal bleeding
Common causes of excessive vaginal bleeding include:
- Bleeding from anticoagulant
- Birth control pills
- Side effects of certain medications
- Infections such as endometritis or pelvic inflammatory disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Intrauterine device
- Uterine fibroids
Signs and symptoms of excessive vaginal bleeding
Signs and symptoms of heavy menstrual periods include:
- Pelvic pain
- Vaginal discharge
Extended or heavy bleeding from heavy menstrual periods may result in:
- Symptoms of anemia
- Heart palpitations
- Rapid pulse
- Shortness of breath – worsens during physical exertion
- Pale skin
- Weakness or fatigue
Diagnosis and evaluation commences with physical examination and personal and family history.
Women with heavy menstrual periods may have:
- An enlarged ovary
- An enlarged uterus
- Cervical tenderness
- Signs and symptoms of anemia such as rapid heart rate, pallor, rapid breathing and low blood pressure
The doctor may perform several tests to diagnose excessive vaginal bleeding. Tests may include:
- Serum pregnancy test
- Pelvic ultrasound
- Complete blood count
- Serum folate levels
- Serum iron level
- Serum vitamin B12
- Serum progesterone level
- Serum estrogen level
- Total iron binding capacity (TBC)
- Thyroid profile
- PAP smear
- Coagulation profile
- Uterine biopsy
The following are less common tests used to diagnose excessive vaginal bleeding:
- Hysteroscopy – an endoscope is used to examine the inside of the uterus
- CT scanning f the pelvis
- Dilation and curettage
Home care treatment for excessive vaginal bleeding
For heavy menstrual periods, follow these home care steps to resolve symptoms:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen for pain
- Take multi-vitamins and iron every day
- See your doctor and take prescribed medication as directed by your health care provider. Avoid skipping doses as it may make the medication less effective and familiarize yourself with the common side effects of the medication used
To learn more about excessive bleeding and other serious medical emergencies sign up for first aid and CPR classes with a St Mark James training provider.