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Frequently Asked Questions About Menorrhagia

With specific diet and lifestyle consideration tips and a great article to share with your doctor

 

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1. Question: I've read your web site about menorrhagia and I've decided to try eating more vitamin K, take vitamin E and a bunch of other things you mention in your site. I'm hoping if I do everything you mention that will solve my problem.

1. Answer: While there can be some overlap between the different conditions that can cause menorrhagia, in general the factors mentioned in my web site are each different causes with different solutions. In some cases the different solutions are polar opposites of each other. Vitamin K and vitamin E are known to be antagonists of each other, so it would not be logical to try both solutions concurrently. Vitamin E has been linked to bleeding problems and lowered estrogen levels, so it is probably a logical consideration for women with menorrhagia due to high estrogen levels. High levels of vitamin E have been linked to lowered vitamin K levels, so for women with menorrhagia due to a vitamin K deficiency, then logically taking vitamin E would not be advisable and may even make their condition worse.

Always see a doctor for heavy periods to rule out many of the common causes of menorrhagia. There are many known causes of menorrhagia such as cancer and fibroids that need to be evaluated and treated by a doctor.

Below I've listed the various factors and dietary considerations that I've some across in my research and experience that may be related to menorrhagia. There's probably more factors than the ones listed here, but these are the factors that I've read about or had direct experience with.

High estrogen levels are one possible cause of menorrhagia

Factors often linked to high estrogen levels:

  • Menorrhagia
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clots
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Breast cancer
  • Being overweight
  • High saturated fat diet
  • Low fiber diet
  • Low activity levels
  • Early puberty
  • Late menopause
  • Denser than average bones
  • Birth control pills
  • High consumption of tofu or other soy products
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Consuming alcoholic drinks

Lifestyle factors often recommended to lower estrogen levels (and possibly help menorrhagia caused by high estrogen levels) include:

  • High fiber diets
  • Possibly sunshine/Vitamin D - a lack of vitamin D has been linked to breast cancer)
  • Avoidance of alcohol - even one drink a day can raise estrogen levels
  • Increased exercise
  • Low fat diets
  • Avoidance of soy products

Female athletes who exercise excessively and eat low fat, calorie restricted diets often stop having their periods due to a lack of estrogen. This condition is called the female athlete triad. While really low estrogen levels and a lack of menstrual periods are not healthy for women and can lead to osteoporosis, the athlete triad does provide a clue that eating less and exercising more does lower estrogen levels.

Since high estrogen levels and cancer tend to go hand in hand, there are a lot of good web sites on cancer prevention diets that also tend to lower estrogen levels. Here are a couple of interesting ones:

  • The Top 10 anti cancer foods - "all 'colorful' and deeply coloured fruit and vegetables - and the deeper the colour the better - including carrots, strawberries, red and purple grapes, and so forth - are rich in cancer-fighting flavenoids and anti-oxidants. " From True Health.

  • Diet & Lifestyle Factors and Breast Cancer Risk - interesting analysis of the research to date from Cornell University.

Vitamin K deficiency is another possible cause of menorrhagia

Factors often linked to vitamin K deficiency:

  • Menorrhagia
  • Post partum bleeding
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Blood in the urine
  • Bleeding gums
  • GI bleeding
  • Easy bruising
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Blood taking a long time to clot after getting a wound
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteopenia
  • Easy fractures
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Celiac disease (gluten sensitivity)
  • Candidias infections and most likely other types of yeast and bacterial infections that interfere with desirable intestinal flora (which synthesize vitamin K)

I don't know if they block vitamin K specifically, but according to one of my health magazines, the following botanicals may increase chances of bleeding:

  • ginkgo biloba
  • feverfew
  • reiki mushrooms
  • bilberry
  • horse chestnut

So if you have a bleeding problem already, you may want to keep this in mind before ingesting any of the above substances.

Lifestyle factors often recommended to correct a vitamin K deficiency (and possibly help menorrhagia due to vitamin K deficiency) include:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Sufficient fat in diet, especially saturated fat (not olive oil or other monounsaturated fats which tend to thin the blood)
  • Avoidance of salycilates (aspirin, spices, fruits, nuts, cayenne pepper, salsa, vinegar)
  • Avoidance of antibiotics and foods and supplements with antibiotic properties such as onions, garlic and grapefruit seed extract.
  • Probiotics to supplement the intestinal bacteria needed to synthesize vitamin K.

For information on the diet changes that I made to prevent my bleeding problems from a combination of a genetic disorder and a vitamin K deficiency, see my section on Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Diet.


Hypothyroidism is another possible cause of menorrhagia

Factors often linked to hypothyroidism:

  • Menorrhagia
  • Weight gain
  • Cold hands
  • Low morning body temperature

Lifestyle factors often recommended to treat hypothyroidism (and possibly help menorrhagia due to hypothyroidism) include:

  • Avoiding foods that contain goitrogens - cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips), tofu and other soy products, canola oil, peaches, peanuts
  • Exercise
  • Getting enough vitamin D

Web sites with interesting information on hypothyroidism:


Inherited connective tissue disorders are another possible cause of menorrhagia

Factors often linked to connective tissue disorders:

  • Bleeding problems, including menorrhagia
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hheart murmurs
  • Pectus excavatum (sunken chest)
  • Hypermobility (commonly known as being double jointed)
  • Frequent fractures
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Marfanoid habitus (tall and thin with longer than normal arms and legs)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Low body weight
  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Poor wound healing
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • TMJ
  • Scoliosis

For more information on connective tissue disorders see my Connective tissue disorder web site Even for people without a full-blown connective tissue disorder, it is interesting to note that isolated conditions such as mitral valve prolapse, hypermobility (double jointedness) and scoliosis have all been linked to bleeding tendencies. See my section on vitamin K deficiency for more on this topic, and the possible links between vitamin K deficiencies and connective tissue disorders.

For information on the diet changes that I made to prevent my bleeding problems from a combination of EDS and a vitamin K deficiency, see my section on Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Diet.
 


Iron deficiency anemia is another possible cause of menorrhagia

Iron deficiency anemia and menorrhagia

Iron deficiency anemia has been noted as a possible cause of menorrhagia, which is interesting because women with menorrhagia are also at high risk of iron deficiency anemia due to frequent blood loss. Iron deficiency anemia can be detected through a blood test. Here are some good web sites on iron deficiency anemia detection and correction:

At least one study has shown a correlation between iron-deficiency anemia and vitamin D deficiency in chidren. The researchers thought that iron deficiency may impair the absorption of vitamin D. So these conditions tend to occur together in children, it may be prudent to consider the possibility that these conditions may go together in adults as well.


Please note that the lists above are not meant to be exhaustive or definitive factors in menorrhagia. There has been very little research on menorrhagia and diet and other lifestyle factors. The factors listed are, however, the factors that I've either read about in some of my more credible nutrition books or had personal experience with so I thought they were worth posting to my site. It's unfortunate that there has not been more research on the role of diet in menorrhagia. I know from my personal experience dietary factors played a big role in my bleeding problems, and I suspect the same is true for other women as well.

For more information and other factors not listed here, please see my main site on Menorrhagia: Often Overlooked Dietary, Drug and Genetic Causes of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding.

Also see the following recommended link:

emedicine.medscape.com

There is very detailed information written up heavy menstrual bleeding on the www.emedicine.com site under their Menorrhagia section .

According to the Emedicine site, menorrhagia can result from:

  • Organic causes of menorrhagia include infection, bleeding disorders, and organ dysfunction.
  • Endocrine causes of menorrhagia include thyroid and adrenal gland dysfunction, pituitary tumors, anovulatory cycles, PCOS, obesity, and vasculature imbalance.
  • Anatomic etiologies for menorrhagia include uterine fibroids, endometrial polyps, endometrial hyperplasia, and pregnancy.
  • Iatrogenic causes of menorrhagia include IUDs, steroid hormones, chemotherapy agents, and medications (e.g., anticoagulants).

While it lacks a section on nutritional causes of menorrhagia, such as vitamin K deficiencies, for a conventional medicine site it is superb in its exhaustive analysis of many the possible causes of menorrhagia. The menorrhagia page on the site includes suggestions for doctors as to the kinds of patient history questions they should ask, what to look for in the clinical exam, possible lab and imaging tests and recommended treatments for menorrhagia. This site is meant mainly for emergency medicine doctors, but it still generally readable for the average patient.

If I ever have problems with menorrhagia again I would print this article out and review it with my doctor, along with the a sampling of the studies from my main menorrhagia web site regarding nutritional causes of menorrhagia. Based on my experience, most doctors will pay attention to medical articles like this written by other doctors who are experts in their fields. Conventional medical doctors, with their customary 15 minute appointment times per patient, may not to have time to look up articles like this on their own, but I've found that if I print out them out and give them to my doctors, they will usually read them and often follow the advice listed.

In my experience, the majority of the doctors I went to for my menorrhagia never checked me for even half of the possible causes listed on the emedicine site. The doctors I've been to were mainly interested in putting me on birth control pills to stop my bleeding, after ruling out just a few of other causes, like tumors, fibroids or cancer. However, while birth control pills often do work to control bleeding, they usually solve a symptom, not a root problem. To paraphrase a saying of Dr. Roger J. Williams, birth control pills weren't going to solve the root cause of my bleeding problems because my bleeding wasn't caused by a birth control pill deficiency.

My body was bleeding because I had an inherited genetic disorder that made me predisposed to bleed easily combined with a nutritional deficiency of vitamin K. Putting me on birth control pills did nothing to treat my underlying health problems and merely masked a valuable clue as to what was really wrong with me.

If you enter "menorrhagia" in the search field on the emedicine.medscape.com site, here's just a small sampling of some of the different disorders that pop up in the search return field:

Menstruation Disorders - Conditions linked to menorrhagia include "Anovulatory dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB), Hyperandrogenic chronic anovulation (e.g., polycystic ovarian syndrome, adrenal hyperplasia), Immature HPO axis, adolescent DUB, Pregnancy-related complications, Chronic illnesses, Sexually transmitted diseases, Blood dyscrasia, Drugs, Endocrine disorders, Trauma, Neoplasms"

Hyperviscosity Syndrome - "Hyperviscosity syndrome refers to the clinical sequelae of increased blood viscosity. Increased serum viscosity usually results from increased circulating serum immunoglobulins and can be seen in Waldenström macroglobulinemia and multiple myeloma."

Glanzmann Thrombasthenia

Dengue Fever

It would seem highly logical to have these and the other underlying causes of menorrhagia ruled out before either just learning to live with the condition or consenting to any risky or expensive treatments. Once a woman has a hysterectomy, it can't be undone.



 

 

 

 

 

Visit my home page or site map to use my search feature and see information on Vitamin K, salicylates and other topics related to menorrhagia.

Related Links:

Menstrual Migraines - the links to nutrition

Ovarian Pain - overlooked causes and treatments.

Diet for Heavy Menstrual Periods - what I've personally found helpful.

See my main page on Menorrhagia: Often Overlooked Dietary, Drug and Genetic Causes of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding for more information on this subject.

Foods that Naturally Thin the Blood

Finding a Nutrition Oriented Physician - includes information on medical doctors, plus N.D.s, nutritionists, bodywork therapists and nutritional testing

Nosebleeds: common but often overlooke causes of epistaxis.

Ovarian Pain from Vitamin K Deficiency

Health Conditions - linked to Vitamin K deficiency

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