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Old 06-29-2008, 04:44 AM   #1
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What to do for heavy periods (pre-menopause)

It helped to read from Christine, on another thread, that if someone is having heavy periods, taking tons of iron may not solve the problem.

I have been bleeding daily - usually heavily, sometimes hemorraghia - since August, 2007. That's 11 months.

I have at least one box or bag of every feminine protection product in existence spilling out of every backpack, drawer, shelf, or cupboard in my apartment.

I have apparently had PCOS all of my life. For years, I had virtually no period at all. My period showed up whenever it felt like it: anywhere from 35 days to 6 months apart. Then by my late 30s, I started getting more bleeding, sometimes for up to 6 months, with occasional hemorraghia. I'll be 46 in July.

I have been seeing my doc monthly for a year and a half. She keeps saying "exercise more": that that's all I can do for the heavy bleeding!

She was very sharp about catching B12 deficiency, and is very knowledgeable about micronutrient deficiencies, and I like her in that she seems very bright, is knowledgeable about natural and alternative therapies (but isn't flakey) and really tries to help.

But lately, between this advice about my period, not staying on my case to keep up with the FeSO4 pills she prescribed a year ago (they made me constipated, so I'd tapered off of them 6 months ago), and sort of shrugging off my not taking the iron, then seeming surprised that my labs came back with low ferritin and iron saturation again, plus low RBCs, Hgb, and Hematocrit three weeks ago, I'm starting to consider finding a new doc.

She also didn't seem to suspect anemia even though so many of the symptoms I'd told her about are consistent with anemia. Very odd, considering my constant bleeding.

I have now been taking 325 mg FeSO4 3x/day for the past 3 weeks (except when I ran low on them for a week).

I'm eating raisin bran with soymilk daily to prevent constipation. I'm also eating more red meat and spinach, taking mega B12, and a mega-multivit. daily.

I read that taking iron pills can help reduce bleeding, and sometimes my periods have been a little lighter since restarting the pills.

I have been fortunate in all other regards with my periods: no cramps, no bitchiness (at least not that seems related to any "cycle" though I have never had a cycle.)

My doc has never referred me to a gynecologist, though she did agree to an endocrinologist recently, and other specialists when I've requested them.

Hopefully I will see the endo in a couple of months.

**
Can anyone tell me what the causes of heavy periods are, please, and treatments? I'll do some research. I like to do things as naturally as possible. Also, I barely exercise, due to the anemia. I bike ~6 miles/week.

I figured I'd just ride out the heavy periods, but if they are going to frustrate the anemia recovery, I want to do something, and of course, don't want to ignore any other problems the bleeding might indicate.

Thanks for reading all of this,

plant

 
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Old 06-29-2008, 07:55 AM   #2
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Re: What to do for heavy periods (pre-menopause)

plant--I can tell you my personal experience. I didn't know it but had 7 polyps in my uterus. This was a reason for heavy bleeding on top of the fact that I have always had heavy bleeding since the beginning. I thought that I could take iron supplements, but It didn't work. I had an ablation to (almost) stop the bleeding. No, it's not very natural but it is better than not doing anything at all. It has worked so well for me and as I always say on this board, it is the best thing that I could have done for myself ever! Did this solve the whole problem, no they tell me that I am having malabsorption of iron, hum......I don't know what I think about that. It could be the type of iron that I am on or the amount or my body, who knows? From the sound of your post you MUST fix the problem of bleeding, which heavily leans towards being the culprit for you. Good luck to you. FLFLOWERGIRL

 
Old 06-29-2008, 08:07 AM   #3
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Re: What to do for heavy periods (pre-menopause)

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Originally Posted by FLFLOWERGIRL View Post
plant--I can tell you my personal experience. I didn't know it but had 7 polyps in my uterus. This was a reason for heavy bleeding on top of the fact that I have always had heavy bleeding since the beginning. I thought that I could take iron supplements, but It didn't work. I had an ablation to (almost) stop the bleeding. No, it's not very natural but it is better than not doing anything at all. It has worked so well for me and as I always say on this board, it is the best thing that I could have done for myself ever! Did this solve the whole problem, no they tell me that I am having malabsorption of iron, hum......I don't know what I think about that. It could be the type of iron that I am on or the amount or my body, who knows? From the sound of your post you MUST fix the problem of bleeding, which heavily leans towards being the culprit for you. Good luck to you. FLFLOWERGIRL
Flowergirl,

Thank you!
It sounds like you have been through so much. May I ask, when this bleeding started for you, were you around pre-menopause, or was it before? How did they find the polyps - ultrasound, pls?

Thanks for your quick and helpful reply, and encouragement that this should be addressed,
plant

 
Old 06-29-2008, 08:39 AM   #4
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Re: What to do for heavy periods (pre-menopause)

plant--Yes, it has been the worst time of my life and really altered it too. Thank goodness that I have all of my family around for support and of course this board! My bleeding got worse in the past 3 years or longer, I am 47 soon!! I just started to complain in the last 3 years, this is when they found my TSH and Choles. levels elevated and was DX'ed with Hashi's. I thought that I was anemic, and that is why they ran the bloodwork, but only offered me BC which I have never been on in my life! So I continued to bleed (to the point that there was a trail all the way to the bathroom sorry about TMI), and I would have to add double and triple protection at work and such. I went to a new GYN and she did a transvaginal US and the polyps didn't show, all findings were normal. When I saw another doc an Internist this time (he did his residency in OBGYN), he was the one that made me realize iron wouldn't fix the problem. All the other docs just left it up to me to take iron, and they didn't really say you have to fix it, I didn't understand that. This doctor told me that it was going to be a blood transfusion or an ablation. The polyps were found at the ablation procedure. That made up my mind clearly. In fact he said that for women after childbirth, the only good thing that the uterus is for is to get cancer. He thought that I really should have it removed. I needed to hear that and had the ablation. This is when my blood count began to rise and had continued. FLFLOWERGIRL

Last edited by FLFLOWERGIRL; 07-01-2008 at 03:52 PM.

 
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Old 06-29-2008, 09:04 AM   #5
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Re: What to do for heavy periods (pre-menopause)

Dear plant,

I developed anemia and I am on iron supplements due to monthly blood loss. It was terrible for years. I am 47 now. I always went for my annual physicals AND gynecological exams like a good little patient. Several doctors that I went to over the years knew about my problem and never sought or suggested any treatment for me. It wasn't until this past February when my numbers finally hit some magic low number and when I had an episode of tachycardia in a parking garage and called 911 that anyone suggested iron supplements. Last year, one of my doctors started the process of figuring out what might be causing it, but tests take a long time to schedule, and you have to do them in consecutive order and while I was going through the tests, I was feeling worse and worse.

Even though I complained about the heavy periods, I guess its' to my PCP's credit that she didn't just accept that as the ONLY possible reason. It was a prime suspect, but she also ordered a bunch of GI tests which were no fun and things checked out fine. My gynecologist did an ultrasound, endometrial biopsy and a hysteroscopy. None of it fun. In the end, after all that, it was deemed that my anemia was caused by heavy monthly bleeding. Duh.

So as to the cause, there could be an abnormality like fibroids, cysts or polyps and you should have the tests that I had to rule them out. More than likely, you also have an estrogen dominance problem which many, many peri-menopausal women have. But one thing is certain, you must get to the bottom of what is causing the anemia and fix that, or iron supplementation will do little if anything to help you. Hard exercise is absolutely not what you want to be doing with anemia. Gently exercise yes (walking outside in fresh air is perfect), but your cells are not getting enough oxygen as it is and you are placing demands on your overtaxed blood that it can't deliver.

This is where I am now. I am on a low-dose BCP that is made for women in my age bracket. I can hear the groans and complaints already, but honestly, it stopped the hemorrhaging and the iron started doing it's thing and a mere 5 months later, I am feeling fantastic and my numbers are much better. And sure, I don't want to be on the pill forever. I am giving my anemia a full year to resolve and next February I will talk to my doctor about a procedure (probably what FLFLOWERGIRL had) to end the periods. And actually, all those tests I had were important to rule out any condition that might be worsened by taking hormones, so after all that I feel pretty safe taking it.

One last thing. Look into other types of iron supplements. Don't continue to take something that upsets your stomach or constipates. There are many options. It took me two or three attempts, but I found a great one that does very little to my tummy. There is a large national healthy foods type of grocery store chain (board rules don't allow us to mention) that has a supplements department and they have a money back guarantee on their supplements. If something doesn't agree with you, they will give you your money back. So start there. It's a very large well known store.

So good luck and keep us apprised of your progress.

Last edited by ChickieLou; 06-29-2008 at 09:07 AM.

 
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Old 06-29-2008, 09:14 AM   #6
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Re: What to do for heavy periods (pre-menopause)

I can't believe that after all this trouble you've had that your doctor has never sent you to a gynecologist??? Or did I read that incorrectly?

There are many causes of heavy mestrual/uterine bleeding and a GYN is the place to be. A transvaginal ultrasound would probably be in order to check for polyps, fibroids, etc. Mostly, heavy bleeding is due to out-of-whack hormones.

A few ways to stop it are:

Birth control pills
Mirena IUD
Endometrial Ablation

and, last case,
hysterectomy.

The type of bleeding you are having is so abnormal that you really do need to do one of the above steps. Endometrial ablation seems to be "in vogue" right now and works for most people. It was suggested to me by my doctor but I'm not in the mood for any more "procedures" and my bleeding is very minimal in comparison to what you are describing.

Plant, if I were you, I couldn't live that way. It is no way to live. Get it fixed soon!!!!

 
Old 06-29-2008, 01:10 PM   #7
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Re: What to do for heavy periods (pre-menopause)

plant like flower girl i thought iron tabs will sort me out and bring ferretin up,i have fibroids,doc said i can take them until menipause,i was 47 then, awhat a wast of time that was,1 1/2 years of taking iron for it to go down the loo, i had fibroid embolisation 31st april to shrink the fibroid,it should take a few months for it to shrink ,so im still having heavy periods,only time will tell, flowergirl happy birthday, all the best shirley

 
Old 07-01-2008, 05:07 AM   #8
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Re: What to do for heavy periods (pre-menopause)

Dear Flower, Chickie, Christine, and Moommin,

Thanks for your very helpful info! And happy birthday, Flower!

Yes, Christine, you read that right:

My doc has never referred me to a gynecologist, upon telling her, at each monthly appointment since last August, that I have been bleeding DAILY - often very heavily - since August, 2007. For eleven months now.

(Have any of you seen Margaret Cho, on a women's comedy special, saying, "If men could have periods, their apartments would look like scenes from a murder.") Sorry if TMI! My bathroom has looked like a laundromat for almost a year.

THANK YOU for confirming that this is a problem that should be looked into, and that "exercise" isn't the only solution. I could never believe that's all my doc would advise for me. Given that she doesn't seem like the kind of doc who would dismiss women's problems - she's definitely feminist - I kept wondering why she didn't tell me more, or send me to a gyn.

I will DEFINITELY go to a gynecologist, ASAP. Because I'm a student and partially disabled, I get public-health funded medical care. I had to let it expire when life was hectic during finals last month, so it will take 45 days to get approval again so I can see someone. But I will definitely go, promptly.

In the meantime, there is a nurse from my doc's clinic, who specializes in reproductive health and does Pap's, etc. who comes regularly to my school's health center to provide those services. I am going there tomorrow to discuss my anemia and B-12 defic. more with a nurse practitioner, will bring my lab results, and request seeing the reproductive care nurse there ASAP.

It is very helpful to get an overview from your posts re: what the possible sources and options are. I'm sorry for those of you have been through this, and appreciate your encouragement, and good news from ChickieLou and Flower regarding this. And Shirley, please keep us posted on how the embolization works for you.

Thanks especially for the advice to get to the source of the iron defic. and to not just take hormones without first finding out if there is some sort of growth such as polyps, fibroids, etc. Thanks for the tip about WFs supplement policy, Chickie.

Last night, I pulled out a copy of Kathy Smith's book (the fitness trainer), "Moving Through Menopause," and it was the most helpful explanation of menopause I've found so far - simple, but explains such things as age range for menopause, indicators, problems, polyps, fibroids, ablation, etc. and of course, exercise and nutrition, which was helpful.

I'm curious - are any of these possible problems dangerous, or just very inconvenient?

Regardless, this bleeding is definitely creating or contributing to the anemia, and must be stopped to stop the anemia. The fatigue and foggy thinking are a problem. Today I biked to school just 1 mile, but felt like I was going to fall off the bike the whole way there and home.

So I will definitely go see the reprod. nurse immediately, and a gyn ASAP.

In the meantime, last night I started drinking Femini-Tea again. It's available at natural foods stores, for balancing hormones. With my PCOS, I found drinking it helped induce periods, and am wondering if it will help balance hormones (in the other direction!). Today my period was quite light, but it's too soon to tell. Has anyone here used Femini-Tea?

(Trust me, that is just something I will try until I can get in to see the nurse and gyn. I will definitely go see them!)

I'm ****** at my doc for not helping me with a referral and better info. A year of exhaustion and poor school performance from not knowing what the heck was wrong.

Thanks so much, everyone,
plant

 
Old 07-01-2008, 05:40 AM   #9
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Re: What to do for heavy periods (pre-menopause)

i only skimmed through the other posts so i dont know if it was said i had novasure(burning the linning of the uterus) done to stop the bleeding so far it has lightened them to spotting for a few days i dont know the finally outcome yet (it can take up to yr) i had mine done 3 months ago good luck

 
Old 07-01-2008, 08:35 AM   #10
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Re: What to do for heavy periods (pre-menopause)

Quote:
Originally Posted by plant View Post

I'm curious - are any of these possible problems dangerous, or just very inconvenient?

plant
Well, chronic anemia can be a danger on its own. As to the other stuff, experts are saying that too much estrogen circulating in your blood puts you at risk for cancer. This part has me a little concerned for when I get off the pill next year because an ablation will make the periods stop or dwindle, but the only thing that has stopped the estrogen dominance in my experience is BCP. (Estrogen dominance is not really an oversupply of estrogen, it's a shortage of progesterone which is why the pill is working so well.) So, I think I will also definitely be seeing my acupuncturist who has already told me she can fix this and maybe even a naturopath when the time comes.

In the meantime, I am limiting my exposure to alcohol, plastics in food containers, and anything else that might burden the liver (except iron) because (and this is theoretical) an overburdened liver supposedly contributes to estrogen dominance.

Your post cracked my up. I do know that Margaret Cho bit. Men would be bragging about how long and how bloody it was, although in reality I think men would find a way to rid themselves of it altogether.

Speaking of that, one side effect of the pill, and my doctors have confirmed it's perfectly okay: I haven't had a period since March. I am using the progesterone SO well, that my body is in one long state of false pregnancy. It's very nice, compared to the monthly embarrassing bleed-out. I won't lie. But a year of this will be quite enough.

And Happy Birthday to FLFLOWERGIRL, from a fellow Cancerian.

Let us know how you are doing, plant.

-Chickie

Last edited by ChickieLou; 07-01-2008 at 09:22 AM.

 
Old 07-01-2008, 04:02 PM   #11
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Re: What to do for heavy periods (pre-menopause)

Plant, Shirley and CkickieLou--Thank you so much for the ~Happy Birthday~ wishes, it wassssss a great day. Last year I missed my birthday due to anemia. FLFLOWERGIRL

PS--ChickieLou thanks...........((((((((((((((CANCER'S RULE!!))))))))))))))))))

Plant--Keep us posted on your progress and what you find out. You have lots of support here! Be well. FLFLOWERGIRL

 
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