Heavy menstrual bleeding, medically known as menorrhagia, is characterized by abnormally heavy or prolonged periods. Heavy menstrual bleeding can affect your daily life, including physical activities and your social life, as well as your emotional health. It can also cause serious health problems such as iron-deficiency anemia. In order to stop heavy menstrual bleeding, you can try several home remedies and making changes to your diet. Read on to learn how to stop heavy menstrual bleeding.
Causes of Menorrhagia
There are many causes of heavy menstrual bleeding, including hormonal imbalance in the body, uterine fibroids, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, use of blood thinners and a side effect of using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control.
Certain life stages also cause periods to get heavier, and in some cases having a heavy period is genetic. Changes to your body or your lifestyle may be the cause of heavy periods. Be sure to check the following as possible reasons for the heavier-than-usual period:
- If you’ve just had an IUD placed, chances are you’re experiencing a heavier period for the first few months. The body initially treats the IUD as a foreign object and this results in heavier periods.
- If you’ve just stopped taking the Pill, you might have a heavier period, since the Pill tends to make periods lighter.
- If you’re going through puberty, your periods may be heavy while your hormonal levels adjust; an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone can cause heavy periods.
- If you’ve just given birth, and you’re experiencing heavy periods, you may need to wait. Periods following birth can be heavy, particularly if you don’t breastfeed. However, your usual level of period should be restored within two to three cycles.
Diet for Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. Make sure you are eating the proper nutrients to sustain your health. By eating a nutrient rich diet you can help ensure that your menstrual cycle is regular, which can prevent heavy bleeding during your period.
- Choose healthy and nutrient dense foods such as proteins including nuts, iron rich foods like dark green leafy vegetables, and dairy products like yogurt or cheese for calcium.
- Consider healthy oils and seeds such as olive and flaxseed to help relieve menorrhagia.
Try a Mediterranean-style diet. Some women have found that basing their diet on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and lean meat has a big effect on their monthly flow. The Mediterranean diet is low in sodium, saturated fat, and processed carbs, all of which cause the body to retain water and bloat up, so eating this way should help with other PMS issues as well.
- Eat mostly fruits and vegetables, beans and other legumes, olive oil, and whole grains like quinoa and farrow.
Avoid processed foods. These foods apparently exacerbate the symptoms of PMS and cause difficult periods. While it’s not proven that avoiding sugar actually shortens your periods, it can help reduce bloating and cramps, and many women report having lighter periods when they pay more attention to their diet. Ice cream and potato chips might be exactly what you’re craving when your period comes, but you’ll really feel a difference if you can avoid them.
- Avoiding these foods all month long is your best bet for managing your period. If you feel like you can’t live without a few scoops of chocolate ice cream to conquer your PMS, you’ll still get the benefits of eating healthy in the weeks before your period.
- White bread, pasta, crackers, pretzels, chips, cookies, cake, and other pastries and sugary confections are on the list of foods to avoid. Swap them out for fruit and natural sweeteners like agave or honey.
Incorporate foods rich in iron and vitamin C. Iron plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells, and an iron deficiency may lead to anemia, which can cause heavy menstrual bleeding. Iron and vitamin C have a synergistic effect, with vitamin C being necessary for the effective absorption of iron. Incorporate foods containing both to help with menorrhagia.
- Eat fruits such as oranges and strawberries for Vitamin C. Prunes and dried apricots are a good source of iron.
- Eat vegetables such as broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes, and spinach to help you get iron, calcium, and Vitamin C.
Eat foods high in potassium. Potassium deficiency can lead to irregular, heavy periods, in addition to more painful menstrual cramping and other symptoms. During your entire cycle, and especially in the weeks (all three of them if you wish) leading up to your period, choose foods packed with potassium to help regulate your flow.
- Boiling foods may deplete the potassium in some foods. Steam or bake potassium-rich foods to get the full benefits, or, if possible, eat them raw. You could, if you really feel that potassium is helpful, try a dietary supplement.
- Bananas, sweet potatoes, lentils, yogurt, salmon, and raisins are all high in potassium.
Get vitamin B to reduce cramping. B vitamins are essential components in the conversion of excess estrogen within the liver. It also promotes the synthesis of prostaglandins, which are an essential compound in reducing abnormal blood clots.
- Vegetables such as green beans contain Vitamin B.
- Choose breads and grains that are fortified with iron, Vitamin B, fiber and protein.
Consume iron supplements. If you are suffering from anemia, try taking iron supplements. This may not only help cure your anemia, but also help reduce your menstrual flow.
- Follow packing instructions for taking iron supplements.
- You can get iron supplements at most pharmacies and many health food stores.
Increase your magnesium intake. Magnesium is an important mineral to balance female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. Increasing your magnesium intake may help level off hormones and reduce heavy bleeding.
- A good source of magnesium is rich dark chocolates.
- As magnesium concentration decreases, your estrogen level increases and results in heavy bleeding.
Home Remedies for Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Apply an ice pack. Placing an ice pack on your abdomen causes vasoconstriction, or the constriction of your blood vessels, which can reduce bleeding. It may also alleviate pain and swelling.
- Place an ice pack over your abdomen for no more than 20 minutes.
- Reapply the pack after 2-4 hours for as long as the symptoms continue.
- If it is too cold or your skin gets numb, remove the pack.
Try lady’s mantle tea. Lady’s mantle (also known as alchemilla vulgaris or “woman’s herb”) is an herb often used for reducing heavy menstrual flow. The leaf of this herb is used in the production of medicine and has strong contractile (muscle tightening), coagulating (blood clotting), and astringent (blood vessel tightening) effects. These characteristics can help bring menstruation to a normal level.
- Infuse one ounce of dried lady’s mantle leaves in one pint of boiling water to make a tea.
- Drink tea three times a day until your symptoms subside.
- You can get lady’s mantle at some health food and alternative medicine stores.
Use cayenne pepper. In order to stop heavy menstrual bleeding, you can also try cayenne pepper. It can help balance the blood flow in the body. Moreover, it helps maintain hormonal balance and relieve symptoms of heavy bleeding.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne powder and a little honey to a glass of warm water.
- Drink this twice a day during your cycle.
You can also take cayenne supplements once daily, but only after consulting your doctor.
Try chasteberry for hormonal balance. Chasteberry is an herb that may induce the production of progesterone. Use chasteberry to help balance your hormones and inhibit heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Try using 4-6mg of chasteberry extract per day during heavy bleeding.
Ingest a cinnamon mixture. Cinnamon is a well-known spice that may provide relief from heavy bleeding. It has astringent properties that can help close blood vessels and stop heavy bleeding. Incorporate more cinnamon into your diet or take it alone to help calm the uterus and prevent heavy bleeding.
- Mix one cup of hot water with 3 teaspoons of powdered cinnamon and take it every 30 minutes during your menstrual cycle.
- Make sure to only use powdered cinnamon for your mixture. Cinnamon oil can cause nausea, vomiting and even kidney damage.
- You can find cinnamon powder at most grocery stores.
Use red raspberry leaf. Similar to cinnamon, red raspberry contains phytochemicals that may help relax the uterine muscles. Steep the leaves as a tea to help reduce heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Add one tablespoon of dried red raspberry leaves to a cup of hot water.
- Cover and steep for about 10 minutes.
- Strain and drink this tea up to three times daily.
- Start drinking this tea a week before your cycle is due and throughout your period.
Taking Medications to Treat Menorrhagia
Use iron supplements. Iron supplements are given to women to prevent symptoms of anemia caused by menorrhagia or to treat the anemia if it is already present. Iron is an essential element in the production of healthy RBCs and for raising hemoglobin levels. RBCs are responsible for carrying oxygen to all the body’s tissues.
- Iron supplements are available in the form of tablets or injections that can be used in chronic states. Examples include Hydroferrin and Ferosac injections, or Sandoz iron chewable tablets.
- Tablets are taken once daily after meals to avoid constipation.
Take an NSAID pain reliever. Take an over the counter NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) when you experience heavy bleeding. This may not only help reduce blood less, but also alleviate pain.
- Follow the instructions on the medication bottle for dosing.
- You can get NSAIDS at pharmacies and some grocery stores.
Try taking oral progesterone. Oral progesterone therapy is helpful to reduce excessive bleeding by correcting hormonal imbalances, and by inhibiting the production of the luteinizing hormone. This reduces the proliferation stage of the endometrium, and can help to limit bleeding.
- Progesterone is taken during days 15 to 26 of each menstruation cycle with a dose of 2.5 to 10 mg daily for five or ten days.
- Side effects have been reported in women using this medication, including headache, weight gain and depression.
Try tranexamic acid. Tranexamic acid is widely used to treat any hemorrhage disorders, including menorrhagia. Tranexamic acid stimulates the formation of blood clots, thereby reducing the excessive bleeding caused by menorrhagia.
- Tranexamic acid is available as Kapron in tablet or injection form. It should be taken twice daily or according to the doctor’s prescription.
Talk to your doctor if your period is extremely heavy. In some cases a heavy period is an indication that you may be experiencing a medical problem affecting your flow. A certain amount of blood loss is normal, but it’s possible to lose too much blood and become anemic and weak. If your period lasts longer than a week, you’re passing large blood clots, you soak through your pad or tampon every hour, and you feel weak or short of breath, you should see a doctor right away to find out what’s causing the problem.
- Write a description of your typical period and other symptoms you tend to experience around the time of your flow.
- Have your doctor check into issues that commonly cause heavy periods. A hormonal imbalance, fibroids, polyps, and more severe illnesses might be causing excessive blood loss.
- Your doctor will give you a pelvic examination and may also do a vaginal biopsy, ultrasound, blood tests, pap smear, or cervix biopsy.