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What is menorrhagia?

Menorrhagia is when a woman has a very heavy menstrual cycle.

Many women experience heavy blood flow during menstruation. Heavy bleeding is considered menorrhagia when abnormalities are present. Some symptoms of menorrhagia include bleeding for more than 7 days, blood clots, the need to change products during the night, bleeding that soaks through several pads or tampons for several hours, blood flow that interrupts daily life, and symptoms of anemia. If you lose more than 6 tablespoons of blood (normal flow being 4-6 tbsp) during a menstruation cycle, you may be experiencing menorrhagia.

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You may experience a very heavy period if you did not ovulate during a cycle (which happens to all women occasionally, and more often in pre-menopause or menopause), if you are under severe stress, if you are using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control, if you are having a miscarriage, or if you have fibroids or a tumor in your uterus. Irregular bleeding—off-schedule menstrual flow—can be caused by entering menopause, by recent sterilization surgery, or by a health problem. If you have an inherited bleeding disorder, you also may experience irregular bleeding. The most common inherited bleeding disorder, Von Willebrand Disease (VWD), affects about one to two percent of the United States population (people of all racial/ ethnic backgrounds). While it is often difficult to diagnose, and there is no cure, VWD can be treated. Since heavy periods and irregular bleeding can signal serious health problems, it is a good idea to talk with a health care provider. This is another reason to keep a menstrual calendar—it helps you develop awareness of what a "normal" or "typical" flow is for you.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.