- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Treatment for Heavy Painful Periods
All women may want to know about the treatment of heavy, painful periods, which at some point in their lives they may suffer from.
A heavy menstrual discharge is debilitating to many women, and the problem can start early in their teenage years and last a lifetime.
The good news is that treatment is available, depending on the severity of the lower abdominal discomfort.
Heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding is miserable as well as costly. Sanitary protection is not cheap to buy, but is a necessity for every woman.
To have to pay out for something so painful is a double blow.
Even the words "lower abdominal discomfort" does not truly convey the agonies heavy, painful periods women have to endure.
They can be life-disturbing and painkillers do not always work.
What Causes a Heavy Period?
In 60% of cases, doctors do not know what causes a heavy period.
It seems to be more prevalent in young teenage girls and in women approaching the menopause (in middle-age when the periods stop).
This is strongly suggestive of a hormonal imbalance being the cause of most cases of menorrhagia, which is the medical name for heavy periods.
Menorrhagia is used to describe periods which are prolonged and heavy for several months in a row, not just one period.
To have both menorrhagia and dysmenorrhoea (painful periods) is miserable.
Known causes for both menorrhagia and dysmenorrhoea include:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Uterine fibroids
- Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Certain blood clotting disorders
- Underactive thyroid
- Blood thinning medications
- Liver of kidney disease
Medicinal Treatment for Heavy Painful Periods
You should visit your doctor who is in the best position to determine the cause of your heavy, painful periods.
If it is hormonal, or suspected to be, this can be easily corrected with hormone therapy.
Some hormone therapies also double up as contraceptives, so this may not be the best treatment for you if you are planning a pregnancy.
- The Pill
Combined oral contraceptive pills, commonly called just The Pill, is excellent for lightening periods and reducing pain during menstruation. They often contain both oestrogen and progesterone, and are also used as a contraception.
- Intra-uterine Device (IUD)
Progesterone only IUDs slows down the growth rate of the womb lining, leading to lighter periods. They are also used as a contraception.
- Tranexamic Acid
This is a non-contraceptive measure, and is only taken during the days when menstrual bleeding occurs. It can increase blood clotting, and reduce menstrual blood loss by up to 60%.
- Non-Steroidal and Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs include mefenamic acid, naproxen and ibuprofen. These are taken in tablet form during the menstrual bleeding days. They work by interfering with the body's prostaglandin production thereby reducing blood loss. They also act as painkillers. They are non-contraceptive.
- Progesterone injections
They work by slowing the growth of the womb lining, resulting in lighter periods with less blood loss. This doubles as a contraception.
Surgical procedures for treatment of heavy menstrual discharge
If medication does not resolve your problem, invasive (surgical) therapy may be the next step. These include:
D&C (dilation and curettage)
This is a simple operation that can be carried out under local anaesthetic, and involves the scraping of the womb lining. This often resolves the problem of heavy, painful periods.
Uterine artery embolisation (UAE)
UAE is used in the treatment of fibroids. It involves surgically blocking the arterial blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink. This in turn helps improve the problems caused by heavy menstrual discharge.
Endometrial ablation is a treatment carried out under either local or general anaesthesia that will destroy the lining of the womb by heat treatment. It's a very simple procedure and should solve your problem of heavy and prolonged periods once and for all. It is not advisable for women who may want to have more children as it carries a high risk of miscarriage should a pregnancy occur.
A hysterectomy involves the removal of the womb. There can be no further pregnancies but the problem of painful, heavy periods is solved once and for all.
So you do not need to suffer in silence.
Through your doctor, there is available treatment for heavy, painful periods.
When you are suffering from painful abdominal cramps, lower back pain and prolonged and heavy menstrual bleeding, you do not need to keep popping painkillers that only work sometimes, it is good too know that there are further, effective treatments available.