Heavy menstrual bleeding: work-up and management.
Heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB), which is the preferred term for menorrhagia, affects ∼90% of women with an underlying bleeding disorder and ∼70% of women on anticoagulation. HMB can be predicted on the basis of clots of ≥1 inch diameter, low ferritin, and "flooding" (a change of pad or tampon more frequently than hourly). The goal of the work-up is to determine whether there is a uterine/endometrial cause, a disorder of ovulation, or a disorder of coagulation. HMB manifest by flooding and/or prolonged menses, or HMB accompanied by a personal or family history of bleeding is very suggestive of a bleeding disorder and should prompt a referral to a hematologist. The evaluation will include the patient's history, pelvic examination, and/or pelvic imaging, and a laboratory assessment for anemia, ovulatory dysfunction, underlying bleeding disorder, and in the case of the patient on anticoagulation, assessment for over anticoagulation. The goal of treatment is to reduce HMB. Not only will the treatment strategy depend on whether there is ovulatory dysfunction, uterine pathology, or an abnormality of coagulation, the treatment strategy will also depend on the age of the patient and her desire for immediate or long-term fertility. Hemostatic therapy for HMB may serve as an alternative to hormonal or surgical therapy, and may even be life-saving when used to correct an abnormality of coagulation.
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