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    Suffer No More in Silence – Heavy Menstrual Flow

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | April 8th, 2018

    Suffer No More in Silence – Heavy Menstrual Flow

    I was sitting on the stool talking with the patient when I felt the gush of blood. I knew if I got up from the stool, the blood would run down my legs. I was worried that my white jacket was stained. I immediately told my patient that I would  be back. I stayed seated on the stool and rolled out of the room and immediately rushed to my office. Thank God, I wore a black pant to work that day. Yes, the blood had soaked through my pants to the white jacket. Luckily, I had another white jacket.  I went to the bathroom and changed. I could not believe it; I was bleeding so heavily that it went through the super tampon and overnight pad. I eventually cleaned up and finished the office visit with the patient. I called my gynecologist. It was time for me to do something.

    Suffer no more in silence – our periods should not dictate our lives. There are many women who are bleeding so heavily that they cannot go to school or cannot go to work during the time that they are on their period. They refuse to wear light colored clothing for fear that they will have accidents. Their bed sheets are stained. Their panties are permanently stained.  They have to use super tampons and the overnight pads during the day time. They are extremely tired most of the time but especially during the time of their period most likely because their blood count is low – they are anemic.

    If your periods are very heavy causing accidents or your periods are coming frequently or they are lasting longer than 7 days, please schedule an appointment to see your doctor.  In a previous blog, I discussed the many reasons for abnormal bleeding using the acronym PALM-COEIN.

    When you schedule your appointment to see your health care provider, make sure that you are prepared to tell your story. At what age did you start your period? Have your periods been regular? When did the bleeding become heavy? Have you had this problem in the past? When it did occur in the past, did anything make it better? Have you tried anything to help with your bleeding? Have you seen a doctor in the past for this problem? When was the first day of your last normal menstrual bleeding? Are you taking any medications? Anyone in your family with the same problem?

    After getting your history, you will have an examination. Based on the examination, tests will be ordered. Do not get offended if a pregnancy test is obtained or if you are checked for sexually transmitted diseases. A complete blood count is usually ordered to see if you are anemic along with other blood work. A pelvic ultrasound is the most common imaging test ordered.

    The management will depend on the results of your tests. Treatment options may be as simple as taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like Ibuprofen to as complex as having a hysterectomy. There are so many options in between. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your options. If you feel uncomfortable with the plan, you can always get a second opinion.

    There is no need to suffer in silence. Menstrual flow is a normal part of life, but it should not cause distress. Sometimes the heavy bleeding is a sign of other problems that need to be checked. Please make sure if you or anyone you know is having heavy menstrual flow, they should follow up with a health care provider.

    For previous blogs in the series ‘Suffering in Silence’, please see below:

    Suffer No More in Silence – Urinary Incontinence

    Suffer No More in Silence – Sexual Health

     

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    Secure Your Copy of Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.
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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.




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