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WTOP | Heavy Monthly Bleeding: When Is It Too Much?

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The risks of untreated anemia due to abnormal blood loss each month include fatigue, dizziness, irregular heart rhythms, and cognitive problems.

Heavy bleeding from fibroids and other GYN conditions can lead to anemia, a condition that needs to be managed on multiple levels. This can include iron supplements, iron infusions, or blood transfusions. Ultimately, GYN conditions need to be treated effectively to get to the root cause of the excessive blood loss.

How can you tell when monthly period flow is too heavy? Blood test results can show if you are anemic, but there are other indicators that can help you decide if you need to see a specialist.

The normal interval between menstrual periods is 21 to 35 days. Most women have a duration of flow of no more than seven days, and lose no more than 80 cc (or 2.8 ounces) of blood with each cycle. Women with an interval less than 21 days or greater than 35 days, with menstrual flows greater than seven days’ duration, or with more than 80 cc of blood loss have abnormal bleeding.

  • Abnormal period, bleeding between menses
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Large clots
  • Menstrual flow lasting longer than seven days

It is important to monitor your symptoms and make sure to seek treatment if they worsen. Other things to watch for are soaking through super tampons within an hour, soaking through menstrual pads, and of course signs of anemia.

WHAT IS ANEMIA?

Your body needs iron to make a protein called hemoglobin. This protein carries oxygen which is essential for tissue and muscles to function effectively. When there isn’t enough iron in the blood stream, the rest of the body can’t get the amount of oxygen it needs.

Blood loss is the most common cause of anemia. In addition to the loss of red blood cells from the body, which your bone marrow must replace, loss of iron that is contained in these cells will ultimately lead to iron deficiency once tissue stores have been depleted. Iron deficiency associated with chronic bleeding leads to a reduced bone marrow response, worsening the degree of anemia.

Knowing the dangers of anemia can help women get ahead of potentially life-threatening complications such as congestive heart failure, angina, arrhythmia, and/or heart attack.

Anemia symptoms vary depending on the cause of your anemia but may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive problems
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headache

Approximately 25 percent of reproductive-age women have absent iron stores, and any amount of bleeding will result in anemia for them. Iron deficiency in the United States and Western Europe is almost always due to blood loss.

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