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Questions for the Experts: I have very heavy periods. What are some treatment options for me?

Questions for the Experts: I have very heavy periods. What are some treatment options for me?

We asked members of our medical staff to answer some common questions they hear from their patients. Read Dr. Amber Cohn's answer to: I have very heavy periods. What are some treatment options for me?

Q: I have very heavy periods. What are some treatment options for me?

A: Heavy periods, or excessive menstrual bleeding, can be a significant problem for some women. The heavy bleeding can impact daily activities, and other side effects include pain and lack of energy.

There are a wide range of treatment options for heavy periods. Medical options include prescribing birth control pills, which can make periods lighter, or an injection of a medication called depo provera, which can stop periods completely. Some other medical options are an implant in the arm called Nexplanon, or an Intra-uterine device (IUD) such as Mirena or Klyeena. These IUDs are good for five years. Nexplanon and an IUD can also decrease a woman’s cycle or make it go away completely.

There are also surgical options like an ablation or a hysterectomy. An ablation is an outpatient procedure that surgically burns the lining of the uterus. About 80% of the women who have this procedure have much lighter periods or their periods stop. A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure where the uterus and cervix are removed. This is normally done laparoscopically, which is minimally invasive surgery with much smaller incisions and usually a quicker healing time. There are no hormonal changes with a hysterectomy because the ovaries remain in the body, but the heavy cycles are treated.

Each of these treatment options has its own risk and benefits. It is best to discuss your medical history, goals and expectations with your provider to see which one is right for you. I always encourage my patients to ask questions and be informed before deciding on any medical treatment.

Editor's note: Dr. Amber Cohn, FACOG, grew up in Gillette, Wyoming and practices at Summit OB GYN.