heavy periodIf your period comes in tsunami-like waves, chances are you’ll spend hundreds of extra money on pads. Don’t ignore it. If you change your pad or tampon more than five times a day, you could have a problem.

You may have fibroids, benign tumors in the uterus; they distort the uterine wall, which can worsen bleeding when you shed the uterine lining during your period. Fibroids are not the same as polyps. Fibroids are made from fibrous tissue in the uterus, while polyps are composed of the lining of the uterus or cervix. Fibroids become more common as women age.

Not all fibroids cause bleeding, and some can cause pain or pressure on the bladder, rectum, or belly. A rarer culprit for heavy periods may be a bleeding disorder like Von Willebrand disease, which makes it hard for your blood to clot.

What to do: If you can stand the bleed­ing until you hit menopause, fibroids typically shrink or disappear at that time because of the reduction in estrogen that feeds them. Fibroids can be eliminated by ultrasound surgery, uterine artery embolization (in which the blood supply to the fibroid is cut off), having them shaved off during surgery, hysterectomy, and other methods.

Each treatment for fibroids has some pros and cons. If you have Von Willebrand disease, medication is available, but you’ll likely want to see a hematologist for treatment.