What can/should I do about my increasingly frequent & heavy periods?
January 23, 2013 10:48 AM   Subscribe

My period is happening a lot. I'm 45. What can I do about it? Details inside.

I've asked a couple of anonymous questions over the past year or so having to do with my period and my stage of life:
-- This is me, wondering if I should still be on the pill at age 44.
-- This is me, having decided to go off the pill at age 45 then not getting my period for 6+ weeks.
Shortly after that 2nd question I had a gyno check-up. She pronounced everything just fine, and said yeah, it might take a while for your period to get back to normal, or not, and to just see what happens.

Now I'm getting my period every 18 days or so. It's HEAVY. Really unpleasant. (I'm also noticing that the ovulation, um, juice -- what's it called, the clear discharge you get around ovulation time? -- is ridiculously copious. Like, comedically copious. Like, what the hell is all of this dripping out of me?!?)

I thought these aging period issues would focus more about things slowing down and being irregular -- not speeding up?!?

So what can I do about this? I really, really don't want to go from now until whenever menopause kicks in with such frequent, heavy, repulsive periods. I have another gyno appt, but it's 10 weeks away. (!!!) I don't think she'll put me back on the pill because I'm obese and because I've lately been dealing with elevated blood pressure (controlled with Lostartan). Are there other options?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried an IUD? The Mirena is a godsend for many, many women who stop bleeding altogether. It hasn't been a miracle for me, but it has lightened my flow a great deal. And considering your age, you're a perfect candidate.
posted by frizz at 10:56 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

My guess is, you're heading into that fun and excitement called menopause. Having your period go from relatively consistant duration and scheduling to all over the place is one of the symptoms.
posted by easily confused at 10:56 AM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]

Talk to your doctor: this may be one of the things that they can help you adjust. All the women I know had heavy, horrible periods in their late 40's, but if you lose too much blood it can be a problem. It might be endometriosis, it might be fibroids, it might be lots of stuff. But it's probably just menopause.

The good thing is that you will be SO HAPPY when your period finally ends.
posted by jrochest at 11:01 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Honestly? I found myself a new obgyn and just had a hysterectomy before age 40. I had the DaVinci procedure and it took about 8 weeks to feel better and now my life is absolutely and entirely different.

My old doctor only recommended the pill or some hormone replacement. Waiting for menopause was too much for me.

As it turns out, not only did I have a really significant case of endometriosis, I also had polyps, fibroids, and polycystic ovaries.

So, have an honest discussion with your doctor about all of your options.
posted by mamabear at 11:04 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Mom is 50- same thing. Turned out she had complicated endo as well as polyps.
She had to request more than the basic exam to find out.
posted by KogeLiz at 11:21 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Check out a procedure called Novasure, which is an endometrial ablation. Less invasive than a hysterectomy but, for me, got rid of my periods completely with zero recuperation time. It lasts for up to 5 years, so you might want to wait a bit, and then do it, so by the time it wears off, you will naturally be over having periods.
posted by parkerposey at 11:28 AM on January 23, 2013

I was your same age and in your same shoes and ended up getting a Mirena IUD. It's come with a couple of other issues that I'm not wild about (and not wild about sharing the details of in this public forum but memail me if you want specifics) - but it HAS lightened my periods dramatically.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:47 AM on January 23, 2013

I also came to suggest you look into endometrial ablation. Aside from hormones there are few other options. Doesn't help you in the short term but you can do your research (there are several types of ablation available) in the meantime.

I liked my Mirena IUD also, for the record, when I had it but I did have some spotting with it as many people do - quite different from the heavy periods I would get without it.

And the ovulation 'juice' you refer to is cervical mucus in case you wanna throw around technical terms with your doc, although I like "ovulation juice" too.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:51 AM on January 23, 2013

I have a similar health profile to yours, OP, and my doctor recommended Novasure.

On another note, I can recommend these pads while you wait for that appointment. Installed properly, they do not rustle.
posted by gnomeloaf at 12:00 PM on January 23, 2013

The other commenters have given good recommendations for addressing the possible cause. Meanwhile, I don't know what you're using for, um, collection, but I'd like to suggest a Diva Cup or Instead (if you're not using one already).

There are approximately 587 reasons why a menstrual cup is awesome, but for a woman in your situation it has several specific benefits. It would probably be super helpful to you when you talk to a doctor because a Diva Cup includes little measurement lines on the side of the cup. So you can say, "Yeah, my flow is at 1/4 oz per day" and your doctor can respond accordingly. Second -- but perhaps more importantly -- a reusable cup will save you a ton of money if you're dealing with constant flow. And it is a LIFESAVER when you don't know how long you'll be flowing, where you'll be when you have to change a tampon, all that junk. You never, ever have to carry things around; you just dump it out, wipe it or rinse it, and put it back in.

Because it's nonporous, it's also great for keeping your moisture balance in line, unlike tampons (which suck moisture in and dry you out). It's also really easy to reposition if you don't think it's in correctly. AND, if you've got some extra mucus or fluid or whatever, regardless of what color or texture it is or what time of the month or how long you think it'll last, you can wear a cup between periods or overnight or whatever.

I haven't had experience with Instead or other disposable cups, but a friend of mine uses them and loves them. You wear them differently, though; they go further up inside you. One advantage of that is that you can have sex with one in. So if your period/discharge has been getting in the way of sexytime, either with a partner or on your own, perhaps that might be a good option.
posted by Madamina at 12:04 PM on January 23, 2013 [9 favorites]

I tried Instead and hated it. Everyone's anatomy varies.

Yes, heading into menopause, cycles can be heavier and closer together. Do check with your doc, but this is probably your normal for awhile. Always Infinity and whatever tampon you prefer together is a godsend if the Diva Cup or Instead aren't for you.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:27 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chiming in with the "this is part of perimenopause for many women" perspective. I call it "Uterus Closing--Everything Must Go!"

My GYN put me on NuvaRing with the goal of having a regulated withdrawal bleed once every three months rather than unpredictable uterine shenanigans.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:37 PM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

Oh, and good news, the OB Ultra tampons are back!
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:38 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

My gyn told me my options for the same issues were gut it out for possibly the next ten years, go back on the mini-pill, or hysterectomy. I went back on the pill. Very happy.
posted by Malla at 1:46 PM on January 23, 2013

I'm dealing with similar issues. This is how I deal:

I second the suggestion of a menstrual cup, although not necessarily the Diva (which is long and may not fit if you happen to have a low cervix); it's a big world out there, there are MANY MANY brands and any of them could be your personal Perfect Cup. Mine happens to be the Fleurcup. You can order almost any brand online.
I'm not going to repeat Madamina's excellent list of reasons why cups rock. It's all in there. Except that my cup also keeps my cramps away.

Ibuprofen on my heaviest day(s). Three to five doses of 400 mg* a day will bring the bleeding down substantially in most women. I wish more people knew about this.

*That's more than it says on the package, but a lot less than a doctor will happily prescribe.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:06 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

I got the mirena for similar issues. It really slowed down the bleeding. If it hadn't worked, the endometrial oblation was the next step. Also, being anaemic can cause heavy bleeding.

Description of symptoms and when you need to seek medical attention. Lots of good information, just click on the side links.
posted by annsunny at 4:55 PM on January 23, 2013

Please call your GYN and tell them you need a sooner appointment because of the more frequent periods. While it may be approaching menopause, it can also be several other things which are more serious, like certain infections or cancers. Your GYN can help you sort out the risks and any further testing that may be needed.
posted by SyraCarol at 4:56 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have the exact same issues, and did a Novasure procedure last year -- zero complications, zero periods. So glad I did it: things were getting gnarly. It is almost always covered by insurance, so I would definitely recommend talking to your OBGYN to see if it is something you'd be interested.
posted by ravioli at 7:31 PM on January 23, 2013

The drug Lysteda to control heavy periods changed my life. My circumstances are different than yours, but maybe it'll help some of your issues too. Ask your doctor.
posted by smokyjoe at 9:20 PM on January 23, 2013

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