Have you been bleeding longer than usual during your periods? Mostly women bleed for three days and often for five days. At times, it is quite normal to bleed for seven days. But if you are bleeding for more than seven days it is time for you to bring it to your doctor’s notice. But you need not get alarmed about the condition because it is not necessary for the causal factor to be a serious one.
Causes of Long Period Bleeding
Long period bleeding is caused due to a number of medical reasons ranging from a minor hormonal problem to a complex uterine cancer. In certain cases the bleeding may be associated with pain (dysmenhorrea).
Menorrhagia includes both prolonged as well as heavy bleeding that happens during regular intervals. This condition happens when the normal hormonal balance of the periods is disturbed, when abnormal blood clotting takes place and when there is an abnormality with the endometrial lining of the uterus.
Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding (DUB)
This is prolonged bleeding caused due to hormonal imbalance. No structural abnormality or any infection is seen as the cause of this. There are two types of uterine bleeding, ovulatory and anovulatory. Ovulatory bleeding( which occurs in just 10 percent of people suffering from DUB) happens when the ovary is still ovulating and it indicates abnormal functioning of the endocrine system. This happens when estrogen secretion is low leading to progesterone secretion for a longer time which results in untimely breakage of the uterine lining and subsequent bleeding. Anovulatory DUB(prevalent in 90 percent of DUB cases) happens when ovulation is not happening or faulty.
This happens in women in puberty or perimenopause( stage before menopause) when ovulation is not performed well by the ovaries. Progesterone is not released resulting in secretion of excess estrogen which forma a thick lining on the uterus delaying the menses. When the period does happen, heavy and prolonged bleeding takes place. The underlying cause for such a condition may be overweight, excessive emotional stress, disease of the endocrine system, effect of drugs, abnormal tissue growth called neoplasm, effect of drugs, or due to idiopathic reason.
These are non-malignant tumors called leiomyoma formed from the smooth muscle tissue of the uterine lining. These cause prolonged and heavy bleeding when they grow.
This condition is characterized by abnormal production and spreading of the endometrial cells. It happens due to excess secretion of estrogen without sufficient secretion of progesterone which checks the proliferation of the endometrial cells. This may be caused by obesity, poly cystic ovarian syndrome, some dosages of estrogen therapy or endometrial cancer. In such cases, the abnormally thick endometrium disintegrates resulting in prolonged and heavy bleeding.
These are medical conditions in which prolonged bleeding takes place. Bleeding disorders are caused due to a number of reasons which maybe genetic, deficiency of vitamin K, prolonged usage of antibiotics, usage of drugs to stop blood clotting, inadequate platelets or liver diseases. Though prolonged menstrual bleeding may happen due to any bleeding disorder it usually happens due to a specific bleeding disorder called Von Willebrand Disease which is attributed to a genetic blood coagulation defect caused due to a deficiency of the Von Willebrand factor.
Disturb the hormonal ecosystem of the reproductive system resulting in a number of complications one of which is prolonged uterine bleeding.
Heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding is caused by hypothyroidism (a condition in which the activity of thyroid is lesser than optimum).
An infected uterus or cervix can result in abnormal bleeding. Pelvic inflammatory disease infects uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes and it is caused by bacterial, fungal, parasitic or viral infection.
These are fluid filled sacs which are formed due to hormonal malfunctioning and cause menstrual bleeding.
Tthese are mostly benign growths that are attached to the uterine wall and their presence is symptomized by prolonged menstrual bleeding. Some of these structures can be cancerous too.
This is the most serious causal factor of long period bleeding.
Treatment of Long Period Bleeding
Prolonged menstrual bleeding is treated in a number of ways
Birth control pills are commonly used for treating prolonged menstruation. Besides being used in regulating conception, birth control pills are used in treating long period bleeding caused due to dysfunctional uterine bleeding. The birth control pills prevent excessive action of hormones which thicken the uterine lining thus preventing the subsequent excessive bleeding that takes place when the lining disintegrates.
These pills can be used by even women in their peri-menopausal state. Hormone therapy medicines, prostaglandin inhibitors, or antibiotics for infections are some of the other medicines that are prescribed for treating the condition.
Operative and Surgical Procedures
Clinically these are the next set of treatment options for people suffering from prolonged periods if the situation demands so. Different kinds of surgeries such as dilatation and curettage( the abnormal uterine lining is removed by dilating the cervix), removal of growths( polyps, cysts, tumors, fibroids and ectopic pregnancy), hysterectomy( the last and the most serious option which involves removal of the entire uterus due to malignant growth etc.).
What You Should Do
It is understood that long menstruation is a very uncomfortable situation for the person undergoing it. However, it is always important for you to remain calm and patient and follow the advice of your doctors. Under any circumstance if you are bleeding more than your normal days you should consult the doctor immediately. Take adequate rest( you can lie down with your feet in a more elevated position than your head), you should take multivitamin food supplements to give you extra energy to cope with the situation and with your doctor’s consent take an iron tonic to improve blood levels in your body. Avoid aspirin.
Avoid foods containing caffeine and take plenty of fluids. Take foods high in protein and iron. Avoid foods heavy in salt and sugar. If you are a vegetarian you could eat beans, leafy vegetables and raisins. Steak and hamburger are some good non-vegetarian options.