If you are having unusually painful and heavy periods (menstruation), you’ll know it can often stop you doing what you need to do.

What causes heavy painful periods?

Unfortunately, there can be issues when periods first start and issues can also develop over time. Some problems tend to be more common at different ages. For instance, periods are more likely to become an issue in the 7 or 8 years before menopause. In some women, there can be a hormonal cause, whilst in other women, there will be a physical cause such as fibroids, endometrial polyps or endometriosis. Heavy, painful periods can also be caused by the copper coil. There will be no obvious cause in others, which can be frustrating. The good news is that there are many treatment options.

What are the assessment optionsfor heavy periods?

The investigation starts with blood tests to check for low blood counts or iron levels as well as hormone imbalances, and an examination of the cervix. The womb and ovaries should be looked at by ultrasound to rule out polyps and fibroids. This can all be done in a single visit with the ultrasound undertaken at the consultation.

How are heavy periods treated?

Although problematical periods are a significant issue for many, there is a range of options to deal with these.

The treatment options depend on what is found but start with a discussion about lifestyle and diet.

Tablet medication (non-hormonal) is the first treatment option with tranexamic acid and then moving on to the birth control pill. The Mirena Coil (IUS) is an excellent option that is very popular and often results in significant improvements to a woman’s quality of life.

There are very effective day case surgical procedures such as Novasure (endometrial ablation) that will make big differences to most women with heavy periods. Endometrial ablation is not reversible and is only useful in women who have completed their family.

The development of the Mirena Coil and endometrial ablation mean that removing the womb (hysterectomy) is now a much rarer procedure. If a hysterectomy is required then this can be performed through a keyhole approach, which has benefits from a recovery point of view.

Why feel uncomfortable when there are so many things you want to get on with? Problems with periods may be caused by fibroids, endometrial polyps or endometriosis – all of which we can treat safely and effectively. Get in touch if you suffer from any of the following:

  • Periods that interfere with your lifestyle, or cause embarrassment and worry
  • Periods lasting longer than seven days
  • Soaking of pads or tampons every hour for several hours
  • Large blood clots in the flow
  • Tiredness or symptoms of anaemia (such as palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting)