The Heavy Period

It's about par for the course for a woman to have a heavier than normal menstrual period at least once during her reproductive years. But some women have very heavy periods each and every month. They have so much blood loss and such terrible cramping that they may find it impossible to perform everyday tasks. When a menstrual period is very heavy or lengthy—or heavy and lengthy at one and the same time—the condition is called menorrhagia.

Egg Release

In general, menorrhagia occurs when the hormones are out of whack so that menstruation occurs without any prior ovulation. In the case of a normal cycle, as the ovary releases an egg, the production of progesterone is set in motion. This hormone serves to regulate the menses. When no egg release (ovulation) occurs, there just isn't enough progesterone and this is the cause of the long, heavy bleeding.

No Ovulation

When the menses occurs without ovulation, this is called an anovulatory cycle. Anovulatory cycles are typical of young girls who have just started menstruating and for older women, nearing the end of their fertile years. In the case of young girls, it is average to experience menstruation without ovulation for the first year and a half. As women near menopause, the hormones change their balance so that anovulatory cycles occur.

Some women tend to have heavier bleeding in the years before menopause, but this is not often so much blood that it can be called menorrhagia. A sign that you may be experiencing true menorrhagia is the feeling that you just can't bear to have another period. That's when it's time to pick up the phone and speak to your doctor. There's no reason to go on like that without seeking some treatment for your condition.

A normal period involves the loss of about three tablespoons of blood and lasts for around 4-5 days. A woman suffering from menorrhagia, on the other hand, tends to lose 5 1/2 tablespoons of blood during the course of her period. Other signs of menorrhagia include: 

*You soak through your pad or tampon every hour, over several hours' time.

*You double your pads or wear a pad with a tampon to keep from soaking through your clothes

*You have to get up at night to change your pad or tampon.

*Your period lasts longer than 7 days.

*Your menstrual blood contains big clots

*You have to forego your normal activities when you have your period

*You have symptoms of anemia such as weakness, feeling tired all the time, and shortness of breath.

If your bleeding becomes so severe you soak through your pads every hour for several hours in a row, you should seek out medical attention.