Menorrhagia is very heavy menstrual bleeding that lasts no more than 5 days, with usually more than 80ml of blood loss during a woman's menstrual cycle.
One-third of women complain of heavy periods, although what constitutes heavy varies from woman to woman. The common symptom is blood gushing out that will soak sanitary towels very quickly, possibly leading to embarrassing leakage.
A blood test can be taken to check blood coagulation factors and thyroid function, while an ultrasound can be performed to assess the thickness of the endometrial lining (greater than 10mm) or any possible masses such as polyps, fibroids or cysts that can rupture causing excessive uterine bleeding. If the endometrial lining is greater than 10mm, a biopsy will be taken.
Within western medicine, heavy menstrual bleeding can be caused by fibroids (in 30% of women) or polyps (in 10% of women). A small percentage of women have chronic pelvic infection or ovarian tumours. The other 58% are unknown.
Acupuncture for menorrhagia
In traditional Chinese medicine, menorrhagia can be caused by:
- Blood stasis (stagnation of blood flow)
- Heat in the blood (the blood is too warm)
Acupuncture can help to regulate hormone levels which can also help to regulate a woman's menstrual period. This in turn can have an impact on heavy periods.
In my experience, Chinese herbs and supplements can help to reduce heavy bleeding and even stop bleeding more than acupuncture alone.
It's advisable to take high doses of iron, such as 200-400mg a day to replace the excessive blood loss.