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Although heavy periods do not necessarily mean there is anything seriously wrong, the affect on your life can be distressing and there are treatments available which can help.
Periods vary greatly from woman to woman but most people lose between 30 and 40 millilitres of blood during one period. Heavy menstrual bleeding is considered to be anything more than 60 millilitres in one cycle. If your periods are consistently heavy, or if the amount of blood you lose is unusually high over several periods, there are treatments available to manage this.
For some women, particularly those in their 30s and 40s and who have had children, non-cancerous growths such as uterine fibroid tumours, cervical polyps or endometrial polyps may be causing the heavy bleeding.
Heavy periods are also a possible symptom of cancer of the cervix (the opening between the uterus and the vagina) or of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). To find out more about different cancer types visit our cancer care page and if you are worried or concerned make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Your doctor is unlikely to consider it necessary to measure the amount of blood you are losing. Treatment starts with a consultation to find the underlying cause of your heavy periods. If you are aged over 45 or are experiencing bleeding between your periods, you may be recommended for a biopsy of the endometrium (lining of the womb). Endometrial cancer is rare in women who have not gone through the menopause but it’s important to rule this out as a potential cause.
If you are keen to avoid hormone products, or these are unsuitable to treat your condition, you can take other medications to ease the blood flow during your periods. Tranexamic acid regulates heavy periods by encouraging the blood to clot and mefenamic acid is an effective anti-inflammatory which makes your periods lighter and helps to control period pain which may often accompany heavy periods.
The aim of an endometrial ablation operation is to remove the lining of the uterus to a depth where it does not re-grow. We also have a system called NovaSure which is one of the least invasive forms of endometrial ablation operation. After this procedure, 90% of women experience normal or light periods.
Novasure is only suitable for women who do not want to have children in the future, but you can have this procedure regardless of whether or not you have given birth previously. It is a safe and convenient operation, and much less invasive than a traditional hysterectomy. Usually you will only have to stay in hospital for one day and most women are able to return to normal life very quickly.