Treatment for Abnormally Heavy or Prolonged Menstrual Bleeding
Treatment for menorrhagia depends on several factors, including the following:
- Age and overall health of the woman
- Desire of the woman to maintain fertility if possible
- Underlying cause, severity, and duration of the condition
In most cases, successfully treating the underlying cause for the condition reduces symptoms of menorrhagia. Acute menorrhagia can cause serious complications (e.g., shock) and requires prompt medical treatment. In women with acute menorrhagia, treatment may involve medication, intravenous (IV) fluids, blood transfusion, and surgery. Menorrhagia associated with an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, cancer of the uterus, or uterine abnormality (e.g., uterine fibroids) usually requires surgical treatment.
It may take up to 3 months or longer to control menorrhagia symptoms. Women who have a history of menorrhagia often are advised to avoid aspirin and to take an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription iron supplement.
Common treatments for chronic menorrhagia include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs; e.g., ibuprofen [Advil, Motrin], mefenamic acid [Ponstel]), oral contraceptives (birth control pills), and oral progestin therapy to reduce menstrual bleeding. Other treatments include Mirena and Lysteda. Mirena is a contraceptive intrauterine device that releases a hormone called levonorgestrel and Lysteda is a prescription, non-hormonal medication that can lessen bleeding when taken during a heavy menstrual period.
Side effects of medical treatments for menorrhagia vary and may be serious. Talk to your health care provider about the potential benefits and risks associated with each treatment.
Menorrhagia that does not respond to medical treatment may require surgery. Surgical procedures that might be used include the following:
- Dilation and curettage (D & C; procedure in which the cervix is expanded and the wall of the uterus is scraped)
- Endometrial ablation (removal of the endometrium)
- Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)
- Hysteroscopy (to remove a polyp or uterine fibroid)
- Myomectomy (removal of a uterine growth or tumor)
- Uterine artery embolization (to treat uterine fibroids)