Young teenager having heavy periods

What causes heavy periods in adolescents? Learn to recognize the signs. And the bleeding is sort of … heavy. Is this something to worry about? Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. A heavy period may be just that, or it may be the sign of an undiagnosed bleeding disorder. When a young woman starts her period, her hormone systems are still maturing. That means her cycle might be irregular for a couple of years.
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Adolescents with heavy menstrual periods may find it impossible to get through the school day without getting blood on their clothes, or wake at night to find blood on the sheets. Beyond the inconveniences, those with heavy or prolonged menstrual periods can lose a lot of blood, month by month. Julie Jaffray, a pediatric hematologist at the same institution, reviewed the issue of heavy menstrual bleeding in adolescents. Borzutzky said. And although some teenagers may find this a difficult topic to address head-on with parents, parents will often be aware, Dr. Jaffray said, not only that their daughters may be missing school, but that they are having to wash bedsheets, or that they are going through sanitary products much faster than expected. In the first year or two after menarche, the most common reason for heavy or prolonged periods is what is called anovulatory bleeding, reflecting a cycle in which no ovulation has actually occurred, but hormones cause continued bleeding. Over time, cycles should become more regularly ovulatory, and the bleeding should decrease, but in the meantime, the heavy periods can be treated, Dr. Borzutzy said. Most people who have heavy periods will not actually have bleeding disorders, but about 20 percent of them will, and since some of these disorders are inherited, it is not uncommon to start by diagnosing the problem in the adolescent and move on to finding the same problem in a parent or other family member.
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New Patient Appointment. Call Us: New Patient Appointment or Prevention; Women's Health. Having heavy periods can be a dreadful experience for preteen girls and young women, from feeling embarrassed for needing multiple bathroom breaks to experiencing frustration when leakage ruins a favorite pair of jeans, to name just two uncomfortable situations. Doctors often treat teen girls with hormone birth control pills and send them on their way, neglecting to test these patients for underlying conditions that also can cause heavy bleeding. In fact, of the young women we see, we diagnose about 30 percent with a previously undiagnosed bleeding disorder. As a result, young women until the age of 21 can get all the care they need under one roof without having to be referred from one program or hospital to another. To properly identify the cause of heavy bleeding, we have in-depth conversations with patients about family history, because many of the bleeding disorders have a genetic component to them. If we feel that a patient might have a bleeding disorder, we do further testing to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Menstrual periods are considered heavy or abnormal if a young woman has periods that last longer than eight days in a row. It also includes bleeding that occurs more often than every three weeks and requires changing a pad or tampon every hour or less than an hour during menstruation. Heavy menstrual bleeding may also cause fatigue, dizziness or other signs of anemia. In girls and young women, heavy or abnormal menstrual bleeding most often occurs because of an imbalance of hormones.

The body produces a female hormone called estrogen at the beginning of puberty. Estrogen causes the lining of the uterus to grow thicker. The body also makes a hormone called progesterone after ovulation.

Progesterone causes the lining of the uterus to mature and thin over time. For many girls and young women, ovulation does not occur regularly in the first several years after getting their first period. Without monthly ovulation, the lining of the uterus grows thicker due to the presence of estrogen without the balance of progesterone. This causes irregular, frequent, heavy and prolonged periods. Another much less common cause of heavy bleeding is a bleeding disorder, which means the blood is not clotting as it should.

Structural problems like fibroids, polyps or other growths are rarely the cause of bleeding in girls and young women. Heavy menstrual bleeding due to hormonal factors is more common in the first few years after getting a menstrual period. This is because it often takes several years for girls to have regular and monthly ovulatory cycles.

Heavy menstrual bleeding due to a bleeding disorder is often due to an inherited or genetic condition. Let your doctor know if there is a family history of heavy bleeding in any close relative like siblings, mother or father. Testing for causes of abnormal menstrual bleeding will start with a blood test. This will include a complete blood count CBC that tests for anemia.

If there is significant anemia, then the doctor may recommend additional screening for a bleeding disorder. In most cases, abnormal or heavy menstrual bleeding in girls and teens is due to a hormone imbalance. The doctor may recommend additional testing based on your specific history and concerns. Our adolescent gynecologists have extensive experience in evaluating girls and teens with heavy bleeding.

When needed, we also work closely with our hematologists who specialize in bleeding disorders. Treatment is different for each young woman, but there are some common options.

One or more of the following may be used:. In cases of very heavy bleeding, the doctor may offer treatment with tranexamic acid a non-hormonal alternative medicine. The doctor may also recommend ibuprofen to help relieve cramps and decrease the amount of bleeding. Our board-certified pediatric and adolescent gynecologists have specialized training in the reproductive health concerns of girls of all ages.

We understand the complex changes that occur during puberty. We can recognize both common and rare causes of heavy menstrual bleeding in girls, teens and young women. We will put both you and your daughter at ease by carefully explaining her medical condition and then discussing the various options for treatment. Schedule an appointment with one of our many specialists. Use our easy scheduling tool to book your next Children's Hospital Colorado appointment. Also see how to book by phone or talk to our pediatric nurses.

Learn how our specialized pediatric gynecologists can treat common and complex reproductive health concerns in girls of all ages. Menu Conditions and Symptoms.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Print. Signs and Symptoms. What are the signs and symptoms of heavy or abnormal menstrual bleeding? Periods last longer than eight days in a row Bleeding happens more often than every three weeks Soaking a pad or tampon every hour for more than two to three hours in a row Passing large blood clots larger than the size of a quarter and frequently bleeding onto clothes and bed sheets Fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness or other signs of anemia.

Tests and Diagnosis. What tests are used to diagnose abnormal menstrual bleeding? How We Treat. How is heavy menstrual bleeding treated? One or more of the following may be used: Anemia: If anemia low hemoglobin or low iron stores ferritin is found, the doctor will recommend you start taking an iron supplement and continue until your anemia and iron stores have returned to normal.

Hormone imbalance: Treatment with hormonal medicine helps to stabilize the lining of the uterus. Birth control pills, the patch or vaginal ring may be recommended, not for the purpose of birth control, but to provide the hormones your body needs to stabilize the lining of the uterus. Hormonal medicine can include: Oral progesterone usually norethindrone acetate A combination of birth control pills and norethindrone acetate A progesterone-containing intrauterine device IUD A progesterone-containing implant Depo-Provera injection Bleeding disorders: For girls with diagnosed bleeding disorders, we will work closely with our hematologist to ensure that the most effective treatments are offered.

Related Items Schedule an appointment Schedule an appointment with one of our many specialists. Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology Program Learn how our specialized pediatric gynecologists can treat common and complex reproductive health concerns in girls of all ages. Patient Stories Browse our library of patient stories to learn about real families' experiences and triumphs. Get to know our pediatric experts. Meet the team.

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