Kettering Health | Strive | Spring 2023

EMBARRASSED TO ASK? Approximately 20% of women in the U.S. deal with heavy periods. Your physician can help, explains Kristen Caldwell, DO. What’s considered heavy? What defines a “heavy” period varies from patient to patient. Volume is one consideration. Heavy bleeding can mean changing a pad or tampon every 30 minutes or every few hours. Frequency is also a key factor, even if the bleeding doesn’t feel heavy. Getting a period every 14 days, for example, is abnormal. Postmenopausal women should seek medical evaluation if they experience any bleeding. Causes Heavy periods may be caused by structural issues within the uterus, such as polyps or fibroids. Precancerous or cancerous cells can also cause heavy bleeding. Nonstructural issues such as bleeding disorders or a hormone imbalance can also trigger heavy bleeding. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause irregular menstrual cycles and is common during reproductive years. Heavy bleeding could also be a side effect from medications such as blood thinners. At the doctor’s office Your evaluation will include a thorough medical and family history. “I ask patients about previous pregnancies and surgeries,” Dr. Caldwell says. Help for heavy periods Kristen Caldwell, DO, is an obstetrician and gynecologist at Kettering Health FEEL BETTER You can find a Kettering Health gynecologist by visiting Your visit will also include a pelvic exam, which enables your doctor to pinpoint structural issues and rule out other sources like rectal or bladder bleeding. In addition, your doctor might order laboratory testing and/or imaging procedures such as an ultrasound or a CT scan. Treatment options Medication—a pill, IV therapy, or hormone therapy—is typically the preferred initial treatment. Nonhormonal medications are also used to help prevent blood clots in the uterus. If you need a procedure, some can be performed at your doctor’s office, such as endometrial ablation to destroy the lining of the uterus. In an emergency, a hysterectomy may be necessary. It’s also an option for patients who don’t respond to medical therapy. Speak up Many women think heavy periods are something they just have to deal with, but that’s not the case. You shouldn’t be bleeding through your clothes or changing your plans to accommodate your cycle. If your period is disrupting your daily life, talk to your doctor. 5