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Menorrhagia

Menorrhagia is the medical term for excessive bleeding at the time of the menstrual period, either in number of days or amount of blood or both.

Excessive menstrual bleeding must be evaluated by a doctor in order to rule out potentially serious underlying conditions that can cause this problem.

Rating Nutritional Supplements
Herbs
fdf Iron (for deficiency)  
xz

Vitamin A

 
xz Flavonoids
Vitamin C
Vitamin E
Black horehound
Cinnamon
Cranesbill
Oak
Periwinkle
Shepherd’s purse
Vitex
Witch hazel
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

 















What are the symptoms of menorrhagia?

Menorrhagia does not produce symptoms unless blood loss is significant, at which time symptoms of anemia, such as fatigue, may occur. Women with menorrhagia may have heavy menstrual bleeding (consistently changing pads or tampons more frequently than every hour) or a period that lasts more than eight days.

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful for menorrhagia

Since blood is rich in iron, excessive blood loss can lead to iron depletion. Iron deficiency can be identified with simple blood tests. If an iron deficiency is diagnosed, many doctors recommend 100–200 mg of iron per day, although recommendations vary widely.

The relationship between iron deficiency and menorrhagia is complicated. Not only can the condition lead to iron deficiency, but iron deficiency can lead to or aggravate menorrhagia by reducing the capacity of the uterus to stop the bleeding. Supplementing with iron decreases excess menstrual blood loss in iron-deficient women who have no other underlying cause for their condition.1 2 However, iron supplements should be taken only by people who have, or are at risk of developing, iron deficiency.

In a study of women with menorrhagia who took 25,000 IU of vitamin A twice per day for 15 days, 93% showed significant improvement and 58% had a complete normalization of menstrual blood loss.3 However, women who are or could become pregnant should not supplement with more than 10,000 IU (3,000 mcg) per day of vitamin A.

In a study of women with menorrhagia associated with the use of an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control, supplementing with 100 IU of vitamin E every other day corrected the problem in all cases within ten weeks (63% responded within four weeks).4 The cause of IUD-induced menstrual blood loss is different from that of other types of menorrhagia; therefore, it’s possible that vitamin E supplements might not help with menorrhagia not associated with IUD use.

Both vitamin C and flavonoids protect capillaries (small blood vessels) from damage. In so doing, they might protect against the blood loss of menorrhagia. In one small study, 88% of women with menorrhagia improved when given 200 mg vitamin C and 200 mg flavonoids three times per day.5

Are there any side effects or interactions with menorrhagia?

Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.

 

Herbs that may be helpful for menorrhagia

Among women taking vitex, menorrhagia has reportedly improved after taking the herb for several months.6 With its emphasis on long-term balancing of a woman’s hormonal system, vitex is not a fast-acting herb. For frequent or heavy periods, vitex can be used continuously for six to nine months. Forty drops of the concentrated liquid herbal extract of vitex can be added to a glass of water and drunk in the morning. Vitex is also available in powdered form in tablets and capsules. Thirty-five to forty milligrams may be taken in the morning.

Cinnamon has been used historically for the treatment of various menstrual disorders, including heavy menstruation.7 This is also the case with shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris).8 Other herbs known as astringents (tannin-containing plants that tend to decrease discharges), such as cranesbill, periwinkle, witch hazel, and oak, were traditionally used for heavy menstruation. Human trials are lacking, so the usefulness of these herbs is unknown. Black horehound was sometimes used traditionally for heavy periods, though this approach has not been investigated by modern research.

Are there any side effects or interactions with menorrhagia?

Refer to the individual herb for information about any side effects or interactions.

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