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How Natural Menorrhagia Treatments Can Improve Heavy Periods

How To Balance Your Hormones to Improve Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Menorrhagia — pronounced men-or-raj-ee-a — simply means heavy menstrual bleeding. Menorrhagia can affect women of any age, and is often due to hormonal imbalances. Treatments must address hormones or other root causes.

Improving gut health with diet and probiotics and relying on gentle and proven herbs for heavy menstrual bleeding and the fatigue that can come with it are the best natural menorrhagia treatment strategies. 

In this article, we’ll discuss what menorrhagia is, potential causes of menorrhagia, and how you can work on naturally bringing heavy menstrual bleeding back into balance.

Menorrhagia treatment: Woman lying on a couch with a stomach pain

What Is Menorrhagia (Heavy Menstrual Bleeding)?

Menorrhagia is heavy menstrual bleeding, usually during a menstrual period. Menorrhagia is one of the most common gynecological problems for women of reproductive age [1]. In the US, 20-30% of women who seek gynecological care will present with menorrhagia each year [2].

During your monthly period, your endometrium (uterine lining) normally sheds the tissue that has built up to support a potential embryo. 

However, women with menorrhagia experience abnormal uterine bleeding or very heavy menstrual flow during their periods. 

During a normal menstrual period, typical blood loss is 10 to 80 mL, with 35 mL being average. Women with menorrhagia and heavy periods may have menstrual blood loss of more than 80 mL per menstrual period [1]. Menorrhagia can also happen during or after menopause, at which time it is a serious concern warranting immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of Menorrhagia

There are a few simple signs and symptoms of menorrhagia. The defining symptom is heavy bleeding during the menstrual period, which can lead to anemia. Here is a summary of symptoms:

  • Heavy periods or menstrual flow of 80 mL or more per menstrual cycle, or the perception of heavy blood loss [1]. This includes:
    • Soaking tampons or pads within two hours
    • Finding blood clots larger than a quarter [3]
    • Bleeding for longer than a week [3]
    • Needing to double up on pads or tampons to control menstrual flow [3]
    • Needing to change sanitary protection at night [3]
    • Missing school, work, or other important activities because of heavy menstrual flow [3]
  • Symptoms of anemia, such as fatigue or heaviness from frequent, heavy blood loss
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • May co-present with dysmenorrhea (painful periods)

These symptoms often translate to a reduced quality of life for women with menorrhagia, especially during their periods.

Causes of Menorrhagia

Menorrhagia treatment: Illustration of a woman's uterus with flowers

Many causes of menorrhagia are hormonal. This includes estrogen dominance conditions like polyps, adenomyosis and endometriosis, uterine fibroids, endometrial cancer, and other hormonal conditions, like polycystic ovaries, or thyroid imbalances.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) consider bleeding disorders like Von Willebrand disease as other potential causes of heavy menstrual bleeding [4].

Some of these causes absolutely require conventional medical treatment, but the underlying hormonal imbalances that can cause heavy menstrual bleeding can be easily influenced by diet and lifestyle interventions such as diet, stress reduction, and hormone balancing herbs. 

Natural  Menorrhagia Treatment

If you present with abnormal uterine bleeding, your doctor will consider your medical history and might order a procedure called intrauterine hysteroscopy, which uses a scope to view the inside of the uterus. If something doesn’t look right, they may take a biopsy after dilation of the cervix, to check for cancer or other abnormalities.

Once serious concerns are ruled out, you can turn your attention to balancing your hormones naturally. Let’s discuss.

The Gut-Hormone Connection in Menorrhagia

Menorrhagia treatment: Woman holding her stomach

Improving your gut health may be a viable strategy for menorrhagia treatment.

Gut imbalances, such as bacterial dysbiosis or inflammation from eating processed foods, are seen as stress by your body. This low-level, underlying stress can deplete your sex hormones to produce stress hormones instead. High stress levels have also been shown to increase leaky gut [5, 6].

Other research indicates that your hormones are also affected by these gut-related issues:

  • Poor fat digestion [7, 8]
  • The diversity and balance of gut bacteria [9, 10, 11]
  • The female reproductive tract microbiome [12, 13

This means that supporting your gut health can likely help rebalance any hormonal causes of menorrhagia.

All of this evidence suggests that a healthy gut microbiome improves hormone levels and reduces your susceptibility to hormone-related disorders, including some causes of menorrhagia.

Diet for Menorrhagia: Eat to Balance Blood Sugar 

Blood sugar imbalance is associated with an increase in hormonal symptoms like PMS [14], and painful periods [15]. This likely because frequently fluctuating blood sugar is interpreted by your body as stress. What you eat also affects your level of gut inflammation, which is also considered stress by your body.

A simple, whole-foods diet template free of inflammatory or processed foods, like the paleo diet, may help improve your heavy menstrual bleeding. That’s because the paleo diet follows the four principles of a healthy diet. 

Four principles of a healthy diet infographic by Dr. Ruscio

Eating a real-food, anti-inflammatory diet reduces the causes of many hormonal disorders by improving your gut health, reducing inflammation, and keeping your blood sugar stable. 

Probiotics for Menorrhagia

Probiotics can further improve your diet gains by crowding out bad bacteria [16, 17, 18], reducing gut inflammation [19], improving digestive symptoms (which often co-occur with hormone symptoms) [20, 21], and reducing leaky gut [22, 23, 24].

We don’t have data that specifically show that using probiotics improves menorrhagia, but there is some evidence that probiotics can improve hormonal conditions in women. For example, a systematic review and meta-analysis of 855 women with PCOS found that probiotic supplements improved inflammatory and hormonal markers [25]. 

Another study showed that women with more fecal microbiome diversity had more estrogen metabolites in the urine, suggesting that they had better estrogen detoxification [13]. 

Triple probiotic therapy (incorporating one high-quality product from each of the three main types of probiotics) is a simple, easy way to make progress on both your gut and hormone symptoms. (See the Probiotic Starter Guide for more information.)

Herbs To Improve Hormones

Along with simple dietary changes and probiotics to support gut health, a few simple herbs help gently and naturally balance female hormones. Complex protocols generally aren’t necessary.

Herbs for female hormonal imbalance infographic by Dr. Ruscio

If we presume that some cases of menorrhagia are due to hormone imbalances, a simple trial of herbs that have been shown to balance estrogen and progesterone levels is worth a test, especially considering the potential side effects of oral contraceptives and other pharmaceutical treatments. 

For example, the herb chaste tree berry (Vitex) was shown in a clinical trial to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding almost as much as pharmaceutical treatment [26]. Additionally, a systematic review of three clinical trials found that ginger capsules and myrtle fruit syrup significantly reduced menstrual duration and blood loss compared to a placebo [4]. Pomegranate flower capsules were also as good as tranexamic acid at reducing blood loss [4].

But often, simple blends of herbs — such as gamma oryzanol, black cohosh, dong quai, licorice root, and trans-resveratrol to balance estrogen levels [27, 28, 29, 30], or a blend of licorice root, white peony, and chaste tree berry (vitex) to balance progesterone — has been shown to improve menstrual symptoms [31, 32, 33].

Keeping it simple is likely to resolve your heavy bleeding symptoms.

What to Do When Natural  Menorrhagia Treatments Don’t Work

Medical treatment with a qualified doctor is necessary and important for some cases of menorrhagia, including cancers, blood clotting disorders, and sometimes for more advanced hormonally related conditions.

Standard menorrhagia treatment options include:

  • Endometrial ablation (spot burning of problem areas) or curettage (a procedure to scrape away the uterine lining) for uterine abnormalities
  • Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or uterine resection for fibroids, adenomyosis, or endometrial cancer
  • Antifibrinolytic (blood clotting) medications like tranexamic acid to reduce blood flow and promote blood clotting [34
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like Ibuprofen to reduce bleeding by inhibiting prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds) that affect uterine contractions and blood flow [34]
  • Birth control pills or hormonal IUDs (intrauterine devices) like the Mirena with progesterone (levonorgestrel or progestin).

The Bottom Line

If you struggle with heavy and excessive bleeding during your menstrual period, seek medical advice immediately to help you determine the causes. 

If your menorrhagia is determined to be due to hormone imbalances, consider improving your gut health with a clean, anti-inflammatory diet and probiotics. In addition, consider using herbs to help balance your hormones.

➕ References

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