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Cartersville Medical Center

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding


Heavy menstrual bleeding (also called menorrhagia) is excessive menstrual blood loss that interferes with a woman's quality of life.

Menstrual Flow
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In some cases, the cause is not known. However, many conditions have been associated with menorrhagia, such as:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chances of menorrhagia include:


Symptoms of menorrhagia include:

  • Menstrual bleeding lasting more than 7 days
  • Unusually heavy bleeding (soaking through a sanitary napkin or tampon every hour)
  • Menstrual flow requiring change of sanitary protection during the night
  • Menstrual flow including large clots
  • Menstrual flow interfering with lifestyle
  • Fatigue and/or shortness of breath (symptoms of anemia)

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Call your doctor if you have symptoms of menorrhagia.


You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical examination, including a pelvic exam, will be done. Tests may include:


Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the heavy menstrual bleeding. Your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan.


Your doctor may recommend:

  • Hormonal therapy
  • An IUD that releases the hormone progesterone
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Iron supplement

Surgical Procedures

In some cases, surgery may be needed, such as:

  • Dilation and curettage
  • Operative hysteroscopy—may be used along with other tools to remove a polyp
  • Removal of the lining of the uterus—endometrial ablation
  • Removal of the uterus—hysterectomy


There are no current guidelines to prevent heavy menstrual bleeding.

Revision Information

  • The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

  • Office on Women's Health

  • The Canadian Women's Health Network

  • The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

  • Apgar B, Kaufman A, et al. Treatment of menorrhagia. Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(12):1813-1819.

  • 11/20/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance FDA approves Lysteda to treat heavy menstrual bleeding. United States Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: Updated April 16, 2013. Accessed August 18, 2014.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Cartersville Medical Center does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.