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Heavy periods: Can folic acid help?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heavy-periods/AN01938
- With Mayo Clinic gynecologist and obstetrician
Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.read biographyclose window
Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.
Dr. Mary Gallenberg is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine and medical oncology.
An Antigo, Wis., native, Dr. Gallenberg is a consultant in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and an assistant professor at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Gallenberg has been with Mayo Clinic since 1990. She was on the Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource editorial board and has been honored for excellence in teaching. She also won a Mayo Clinic Excellence Through Teamwork award.
- Blood clots during menstruation: A concern?
Treatments and drugs (1)
- Heavy periods: Can folic acid help?
Heavy periods: Can folic acid help?
I read somewhere that folic acid supplements are beneficial for women with heavy periods. How does folic acid help heavy periods?
from Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D.
Folic acid supplements aren't a treatment for heavy periods, or for the type of anemia — iron deficiency anemia — associated with heavy periods.
There are several types of anemia, all characterized by a shortage of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues. Some types develop when your bone marrow produces abnormal red blood cells as a result of folic acid deficiency. Folic acid supplements correct folic acid deficiency, so that healthy blood cells gradually replace abnormal ones.
With iron deficiency anemia, the underlying problem is blood loss, occurring over a long enough time to deplete your body's iron stores. When your iron is depleted, your red blood cells can't carry oxygen effectively. Heavy periods are a common cause of iron deficiency anemia.
If you have iron deficiency anemia, your doctor will likely recommend that you take iron supplements to promote your production of healthy red blood cells and build back your iron stores. In the meantime, birth control pills are an option for shortening your periods and reducing monthly blood loss.
During your period, try taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen (Aleve, others). These drugs, often used to treat menstrual cramps, can also lighten heavy periods.
If you have severe bleeding that doesn't respond to medication and maintaining your fertility isn't a concern, treatment options may include:
- The use of a progestin-containing intrauterine device (IUD)
- Scraping the lining of the uterus (dilation and curettage)
- Removing the lining of the uterus (endometrial ablation)
- Removing the uterus (hysterectomy)
Blood clots during menstruation: A concern?
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- Lethaby A, et al. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for heavy menstrual bleeding. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2009:CD000400.
- Colin CM, et al. Complications of menstruation; abnormal uterine bleeding. In: DeCherney AH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment Obstetrics and Gynecology. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2007. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2388454. Accessed Nov. 3, 2010.