Heavy Vaginal & Uterine Bleeding
While uterine fibroids can cause a variety of symptoms, they may not cause any symptoms at all. Excessively heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding is a common symptom. Women describe soaking through sanitary protection in less than an hour, passing blood clots and being unable to leave the house during the heaviest day of flow. As a result, some women develop anemia, also known as a low blood count. Anemia can cause fatigue, headaches and lightheadedness.
If heavy bleeding interferes with your everyday activities or if you develop anemia, you should see your doctor to discuss fibroid treatment options.
Heavy vaginal bleeding
Menorrhagia (prolonged and/or profuse uterine & vaginal bleeding, also called hypermenorrhea). This is the most common symptom associated with uterine fibroids and the one that usually prompts a woman to make an appointment with our office. Depending on the amount of bleeding, a woman can become anemic (low blood counts) over several months. This anemia can cause chronic fatigue and overall weakness.
Menorrhagia means heavy periods that recur each month. Also, that the blood loss interferes with your quality of life. For example, if it stops you doing normal activities such as going out, working or shopping. Menorrhagia can occur alone or in combination with other symptoms.
A heavy period is a blood loss of 60-80 ml or more. This is about half a teacupful or more. However, it is difficult to measure the amount of blood that you lose during a period. For practical purposes, a period is probably heavy if it causes one or more of the following:
- Flooding through to clothes or bedding.
- You need frequent changes of sanitary towels or tampons.
- You need double sanitary protection (tampons and towels).
- You pass large blood clots (see below).
Prolonged vaginal bleeding
Normal menstrual periods typically last four to five days, whereas women with uterine fibroids often have abnormal vaginal bleeding lasting longer than seven days. In some cases, our patients describe heavy uterine or vaginal bleeding lasting for months without stopping.
Passing large blood clots
Many women notice large 'blood clots' that pass during their menses. Some women lose clots of blood that resemble pieces of liver. If the blood flow is heavy, the anti-clotting factors that are normally present in the menstrual blood may not be able to keep the blood flowing smoothly, hence the pieces of clotted blood. Large clots during heavy vaginal bleeding could be a sign of uterine fibroids.