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3 Things That Can Promote Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

If you experience heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, you may be at a heightened risk for developing anemia. Although excessive bleeding during periods can be normal for some women, if you develop changes in the patterns of menstrual bleeding, see your OB/GYN to rule out any abnormalities. Here are three things that can promote heavy menstrual bleeding and what you can do about them:

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

If you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen, you may experience heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. These medications decrease platelet aggregation, which means that your platelets become less sticky and less prone to clotting.

This effect causes your blood to thin, increasing the incidence of abnormal bleeding during your menstrual period. Not only can these medications lead to heavy bleeding during your menstrual cycle, they can also raise your risk for bleeding in-between your periods.

If you take aspirin for headaches or generalized pain, switching to acetaminophen will help prevent excessive bleeding. If, however, your physician has recommended that you take an aspirin a day to reduce your risk for heart attack, blood clots, or stroke because you are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, do not stop taking your aspirin without clearance from your doctor. 

Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, garlic, and magnesium can also promote bleeding during your period. These supplements have potent anticoagulant properties, and in certain cases, can thin your blood too much.

If you take any of these dietary supplements tell your doctor, who will determine if you should stop taking them in order to help control menstrual bleeding. Also, if you take any of these supplements while taking aspirin or ibuprofen, your bleeding risks may be dramatically accentuated. Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, as well as fresh garlic and magnesium-rich nuts may also have anticoagulant effects, but to a lesser extent than supplements do.

Viral Infections

If you have a viral or bacterial infection, you may develop a condition known as thrombocytopenia. This can lead to a dramatic decrease in the number of your blood platelets. When your platelet levels are too low, you may experience abnormal bleeding such as blood in your urine or stool, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and heavy menstrual bleeding.

If you notice that you are bleeding more when you have a cold or the flu, see your physician, who will recommend a complete blood count to evaluate your platelet function. Thrombocytopenia typically resolves once your infection has cleared, although it can take a few weeks for platelets to revert to normal.

If you develop heavy or prolonged bleeding during your menstrual period, or if you bleed in-between your periods, see your doctor to determine the cause. The sooner bleeding or gynecological abnormalities are recognized and addressed, the less likely you'll be to experience anemia, hemorrhage, or generalized weakness.