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Menorrhagia is the most common type of abnormal uterine bleeding characterized by heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding. In some cases, bleeding may be so severe and relentless that daily activities become interrupted. Other types of abnormal uterine bleeding (also called dysfunctional uterine bleeding) include:


  • Polymenorrhea – too frequent menstruation
  • Oligomenorrhea - infrequent or light menstrual cycles
  • Metrorrhagia - any irregular, acyclic non-menstrual bleeding from the uterus; bleeding between menstrual periods
  • postmenopausal bleeding - any bleeding that occurs more than 6 months after the last normal menstrual period at menopause

Symptoms may include:


  • Menstrual flow that soaks through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours or days
  • The need to use double sanitary protection to control your menstrual flow
  • The need to change sanitary protection during the night
  • Menstrual periods lasting longer than seven days
  • Menstrual flow that includes large blood clots
  • Heavy menstrual flow that interferes with your regular lifestyle
  • Tiredness, fatigue or shortness of breath (symptoms of anemia)
  • Spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Spotting or bleeding during pregnancy

There are several possible causes of menorrhagia, including the following:


  • hormonal (particularly estrogen and progesterone) imbalance (especially seen in adolescents who are experiencing their menstrual period for the first time and in women approaching menopause)
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) 
  • uterine fibroids
  • abnormal pregnancy (i.e., miscarriage, ectopic)
  • infection, tumors, or polyps in the pelvic cavity
  • certain birth control devices (i.e., intrauterine devices, or IUDs)
  • bleeding or platelet disorders
  • high levels of prostaglandins (chemical substances which help to control the muscle contractions of the uterus)
  • high levels of endothelins (chemical substances which help the blood vessels in the body dilate)
  • liver, kidney, or thyroid disease

Treatments may include:


Specific treatment for menorrhagia is based on a number of factors, including:


  • Overall health and medical history
  • The cause and severity of the condition
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • The likelihood that your periods will become less heavy before long
  • Your future childbearing plans
  • Effects of the condition on your lifestyle
  • Your opinion or personal preference

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Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton Hamilton. Phone: 609-586-7900 Physician Referral: 609-584-5900.

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