are very heavy periods normal for pre-menopause?

linnea56November 13, 2006

I'm 50; still having periods. I thought they'd be getting lighter and less frequent, but instead they have become MUCH heavier. If one comes a little later it's like it was "making up for lost time". Last month I couldn't even leave the house on day 1 or 2; I'd soak through a tampon and a napkin by the time I got to the door. I think I spent most of those 2 days changing them. I had to cancel everything I had planned for those days. I went to my gyne doctor a few days later but she couldn't really tell me anything. I have fibroids but she said they are shrinking.

Is this typical?

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Hi linnea,
It's a little disconcerting to hear that your gyne doc didn't have much to say to you.
She should have told you that when our progesterone starts getting low, our uterine linings keep building up, which leads to more bleeding. Sometimes they give women progesterone pills to help.
That's how my periods started going when I was in my late 40's. I refused the progesterone, and my bleeding got out of control. I ended up losing alot of blood and needing a D&C, and was put on hormones for awhile, to keep from bleeding again.
It seems like your doc might want to do an endometrial biopsy or a transvaginal ultrasound, so she can understand why you're bleeding.
Lots of women just put up with this bleeding during perimenopause. In some women, it just works itself out.
For me, I think I would have bled to death. The biopsy of my lining showed that I had cells growing in a weird fashion.....which caused my bleeding. Plus, sometimes, the lining can actually get so thin that it bleeds constantly... But the cause of the bleeding needs to be determined.
Are you getting tired easily from the blood loss? If not, I'd say give it a few more months, but don't overlook it too long. Once your hemoglobin gets low, it takes awhile to build it back up.
Is there another gyne you could see?? Did she say anything at all about your heavy bleeding?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 9:36AM
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Thanks, Catherine; she just said it was a normal variation for perimenopause. I don't think she is a bad gyne doctor; she handled my pregnancies and deliveries beautifully. When I had strange abdominal pain a few years she ordered a big battery of tests, so I don't think she is just letting this slide.

But I had my periodic checkup with my internist a week or so after the gyne checkup and my hemoglobin turned out to be too low: it had gone from 14 on my previous one (2 or 3 years ago) to 11 on this one. My internist called me up after getting the results. I told him about the heavy periods. I had had the lab tests on day 3 of my period (the first day I could get out of the house!). He scheduled me for a followup hemoglobin in 6 weeks from the date of the previous one, to see if it's still low. I have been more tired but not staggeringly so. I'm not taking any iron at present, though I do eat red meat.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 1:06PM
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Hi linnea,
That's getting a bit low on the hemoglobin. Can you take iron supplements? They are pretty hard on my stomach, so when I needed to take them, I only took them a couple times a week.
After my vaginal bleed, my Hgb was 7 (down from 14). I refused a transfusion, since I already had fibromyalgia, and didn't want anything funkier! It took me 6 months to get it back up to 14. So don't put off seriously trying to get it up. A few more heavy periods, and it could get even lower.
Eat that red meat! hahaha When my Hgb was 7, my doctor said "I'm ordering you to eat alot of steak". No problem! lol!
Good luck to you linnea!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 4:23PM
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Thanks again...
I think I will have to take iron but want to wait until the next blood test to avoid interfering with the results. I'm also seeing a cardiologist in a week for heart rhythm problems, so again, want to do everything the way I have been to see what he comes up with, based on no supplementation (other than ordinary vitamins).

In the meantime I will need to research iron and find out what kind I should take. I have not taken it since my last pregnancy. I too found it hard on my stomach, and terribly constipating. I am planning to start cooking more in cast iron pans too.

It's funny, every doctor I have had has told me to eat more red meat! Even when I was not anemic. I think so many people are avoiding it that women, in particular, are suffering other health consequences.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 4:39PM
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Hi again,

Do you think your heart rhythm problems are from being anemic?? Surely you wouldn't have to have a stress echo with that low Hbg. I hope not. You'd probably reach your target heartrate within a minute!
I think my doctor told me to use a brand of iron that's called "Slow Fe", or something like that. She said it was the most tolerated. But iron is just so hard to tolerate for most of us. Could you suck on a rusty nail or something?? ;)
Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 7:26PM
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look for the time released iron...much easier on the system...

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 9:49PM
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Hi, I've had heart palpitations since I was a teenager, but now get atrial fibrillation periodically. I have identified my triggers, alcohol and not enough sleep, but first and foremost is the rise of progesterone right before my period starts. I am 49 years old now, and had 4 months between my last periods. I haven't had the Afib in all these months, but just got it recently, then within a couple days my period started. So, I have to watch my alcohol intake during this time, and get plenty of sleep. Magnesium and Potassium are super important for regular heart rhythm also. If you can find a good Magnesium and Potassium supplement,(I prefer liquid) it should help. It will help with energy levels too.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 3:26PM
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I finally got tired of the mess every night and bought some depends!! They really work. If I have to be away from home all day I'll wear one then too. What a relief to not have to worry.

For those of you who have trouble with spotting, try something called a soft cup. It looks like a diaphram and is worn the same way. You can wear it anytime, no danger of toxic shock syndrome like with tampons. They are messy to change but they hold about a half cup of fluid

The brand name is Instead and they are with the feminine hygiene products. I used to only find them at Walgreens, but my Walmart has them now.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 5:04PM
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I developed this problem when my primary care physician decided I shouldn't be on the pill anymore. In three years my periods became increasingly heavy and I felt I couldn't leave the house for fear of having an accident. It was horrible. I overheard a friend talking to someone about Novasure, a procedure that destroys the lining of the uterus and either lightens the monthy bleeding or completely puts an end to it. I fired my primary who did not think the extreme periods were a problem and went to a gynocologist. She recommended Novasure and one month later I had the procedure. It was covered by insurance and I haven't bled in almost two years! It's extremely liberating and I never have the threat of getting my period in public. I do still ovulate and have my monthly hormonal swings, but no bleeding. It's wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone whose life has to be put on hold during menstruation due to excessive and heavy bleeding. What Novasure does NOT do, is protect from pregnancy. You will especially need a birth control method because if even a small area of tissue remains in your uterus, if you are still ovulating, then you may get pregnant, which is dangerous to you and the fetus. I hope this helps. Had I not overheard that conversation a couple of years back, I would still be suffering needlessly.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 8:00AM
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My periods increased tremendously in my mid 40's when I was advised to go off birth control pills due to high cholesterol and blood pressure. So have those of half my long time girlfriends. My gyn said it was very common. I had no idea. I thought they would just gradually stop. Hah!

I had the Novasure ablation in Dec of 2010 and it was a miracle.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:13PM
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