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Bleeding Problems: Heavy periods

Period Problems information contributed by:
Dr Lucy Caird. MBChB, MRCOG, MD. Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Heavy periods (Menorrhagia)

Heavy periods, or Menorrhagia, is one of the most common causes of ill-health in women. As many as one in twenty women between the ages of thirty and forty nine will consult a GP each year because of period problems. Some of the time there is an obvious underlying reason for this, such as fibroids (a benign growth in the muscle of the womb), endometriosis (blood blisters or chocolate cysts in the lining of the pelvis), polyps in the womb or sometimes this just occurs at this stage in life.

This type of bleeding is called dysfunctional uterine bleeding when we don't really know why it occurs, but it is likely to be due to the fact that the ovaries are beginning to fail and the hormone balance is changing.

Rarely, womb cancer can present as heavy periods, but this is more commonly associated with bleeding after the menopause (post menopausal bleeding), or with bleeding between the periods (intermenstrual bleeding).

As the menopause approaches it is not uncommon to miss the occasional period and although pregnancy should be considered, it is more likely that this simply represents the transition into the menopause. It is normal sometimes not to get a period for two or three months, and thereafter have a heavy period which can be quite difficult to manage at times, and very inconvenient.

Doctors are more worried when people have spot bleeding between the periods and if this is the case it is probably important that you seek medical advice soon.

It is also important to remember to have regular smear tests at your GP's surgery, and this should be performed every three or five years, depending on your local arrangements.

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