Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
- How common is heavy menstrual bleeding?
Heavy menstrual bleeding is very common. About one third of women seek treatment for it. Heavy menstrual bleeding is not normal. It can disrupt your life and may be a sign of a more serious health problem. If you are worried that your menstrual bleeding is too heavy, tell your obstetriciangynecologist .
- When is menstrual bleeding considered heavy?
Any of the following can be a sign of heavy menstrual bleeding:
Bleeding that lasts more than 7 days.
Bleeding that soaks through one or more tampons or pads every hour for several hours in a row.
Needing to wear more than one pad at a time to control menstrual flow.
Needing to change pads or tampons during the night.
Menstrual flow with blood clots that are as big as a quarter or larger.
Heavy menstrual bleeding may be a sign of an underlying health problem that needs treatment. Blood loss from heavy periods also can lead to a condition called iron-deficiency anemia. Severe anemia can cause shortness of breath and increase the risk of heart problems.
Many things can cause heavy menstrual bleeding. Some of the causes include the following:
Bleeding disordersWhen the blood does not clot properly, it can cause heavy bleeding.
When you see your ob-gyn about heavy menstrual bleeding, you may be asked about
past and present illnesses and surgical procedures
Treatment Of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
At Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, adolescent medicine specialists are able to manage the majority of cases of heavy menstrual bleeding. However, if necessary, a coordinated approach may be used with specialists from gynecology, hematology, radiology and endocrinology and others to accurately diagnose and treat patients with heavy menstrual bleeding.
Treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding will be recommended by your adolescent’s physician based on:
- Your adolescent’s age, overall health and medical history
- Cause and severity of the condition
- Your adolescent’s tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
- Your adolescents future childbearing plans
- Effects of the condition on your adolescents lifestyle
- Your adolescent’s opinion or preference
Signs That You Have Abnormal Blood Loss
There are a few key signs that your period is heavier than normal and you may be losing a harmful amount of blood.
1. Bleeding too much: It’s a sign of menorrhagia if you need to double up on pads or have to change your pad in the middle of the night, says Astrid von Walter, MD, an OBGYN at Rockville Gynecology.
2. Bleeding too quickly: If you soak through a tampon or pad in less than an hour, for several hours in a row, this is a sign that you’re bleeding too much and you should get medical attention as soon as possible.
3. Bleeding for too long: It’s also concerning if you have “heavy periods lasting more than 7 days,” von Walter says.
4.Large blood clots: “If you’re passing clots the size of a quarter or larger,” this is an indicator of menorrhagia, says Christine Greves, MD, an OB-GYN at Winnie Palmer Hospital.
It’s also common to have cramping along with heavy bleeding, or feel weak and fatigued, von Walter says.
You should also ask yourself how your period affects your quality of life, Greves says. “If you are having to change your activities etc. and revolve things around your period because it is too heavy, then that is not normal.”
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What Is The Normal Menstrual Flow
In a randomly selected group of premenopausal women, the most common amount of menstrual flow was about two tablespoons in a whole period . However the amount of flow was highly variableit ranged from a spot to over two cups in one period! Women who are taller, have had children and are in . That means it is normal to soak one to seven normal-sized pads or tampons in a whole period.
Women In Their Teens 20s And 30s
A common cause of abnormal bleeding in young women and teenagers is pregnancy. Many women have abnormal bleeding in the first few months of a normal pregnancy. Some birth control pills or the intrauterine device can also cause abnormal bleeding.
Some young women who have abnormal uterine bleeding do not release an egg from their ovaries during their menstrual cycle. This is common for teenagers who have just started getting their periods. This causes a hormone imbalance where the estrogen in your body makes the lining of your uterus grow until it gets too thick. When your body gets rid of this lining during your period, the bleeding will be very heavy. A hormone imbalance may also cause your body not to know when to shed the lining. This can cause irregular bleeding between your periods.
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How Do I Know If Im Losing Too Much Blood During My Period
Signs and symptoms of menorrhagia may include: Soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours. Needing to use double sanitary protection to control your menstrual flow. Needing to wake up to change sanitary protection during the night.
How do I know if Im losing too much blood on my period?
What happens if you bleed too much during your period?
Bleeding way too much or for too long is messy and inconvenient, sure, but theres a bigger issue here. Losing more than the typical two to three tablespoons of blood during your period or bleeding for longer than seven days can lead to anemia, the CDC says.
Iron Deficiency And Anaemia
If you have heavy periods each month, one of the key things to watch out for is iron deficiency. One of the most common causes of iron deficiency is prolonged or heavy periods. This can leave you feeling tired and lacking energy. In some cases, this can even lead to anaemia.
Ask your doctor or nurse if you need a blood test to check your ferritin and full blood count. If your results indicate your iron is low, you may need to also take iron supplements.
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What Tests Might Be Needed For Heavy Periods
Your doctor might do or advise one or more of the following tests:
- An examination to see whether the bleeding is coming from your cervix, not your uterus. This is done in a similar way as a cervical smear or HPV screening test.
- Blood tests to look for anaemia, iron levels, thyroid disease or a bleeding disorder.
- An ultrasound of your uterus and ovaries to detect abnormalities in your uterus, such as polyps or fibroids.
- A cervical smear in which a sample of cells is collected from your cervix and then looked at to see if you have an infection, inflammation or changes in the cells that might be or cause cancer.
- A sample of the lining of the uterus to see whether there are any precancerous or cancerous changes.
Abnormally Short Or Long Periods
Normal periods can last anywhere from two to seven days. Short periods may be nothing to worry about, especially if theyre typical for you. Using hormonal birth control can also shorten your cycle. Going into menopause can disrupt your normal cycles as well. But if your periods suddenly get much shorter, check in with your doctor.
Some of the same factors that cause heavy bleeding can make your periods longer than usual. These include a hormone imbalance, fibroids, or polyps.
Cramps are a normal part of periods. Theyre caused by uterine contractions that push out your uterine lining. Cramps typically start a day or two before your flow begins, and last for two to four days.
For some women, cramps are mild and not bothersome. Others have more severe cramps, called dysmenorrhea.
Other possible causes of painful cramps include:
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Why Do I Gush Blood On Your Period
Its perfectly normal to notice some clumps from time to time during your period. These are blood clots that may contain tissue. As the uterus sheds its lining, this tissue leaves the body as a natural part of the menstrual cycle. So clots of tissue are usually nothing to be concerned about.
Does drinking water shorten your period?
Stay hydrated It can help move your cycle along more quickly, too. Drinking water helps prevent blood from thickening.
What foods stop heavy periods?
Getting more iron in your diet can help reduce heavy bleeding and prevent anemia caused by blood loss. Try eating iron-rich foods like meat, seafood, beans, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables.
How Are Heavy Periods Treated
The choice of treatment will depend on the cause of your bleeding. If a reason for the heavy bleeding is found, such as a fibroid, this will be treated.
However, sometimes no cause for heavy periods can be found. In these cases, heavy periods can be treated by medicines or by surgery, with the aim of decreasing the amount of bleeding. Some treatments may stop your periods completely and others may affect your fertility.Considerations for treatment include your age, general health, whether you require contraception or want to have children. Some treatments are ongoing and others are done one time.
Discuss all your options with your doctor to decide which is best for you.
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Remember: Everyones Cycle Is Different
No two menstrual cycles are exactly the same. Some periods can last one day while others last a week, and the time in between periods can vary too.
The average cycle lasts 28 days however, this doesnt mean that something is wrong if yours doesnt last that long.
Cycles can range in length from around 21 days to as long as 35 days.
Cycles shorter than 21 days typically signal that ovulation may have occurred earlier than normal or not at all.
Cycles longer than 35 days indicate that ovulation isnt occurring or its occurring irregularly.
A period thats longer than 7 days can also signal that ovulation hasnt occurred.
Now that you know the basics, youre probably wondering whats causing your period to be longer than usual. There are many different plausible causes, and theyre typically manageable.
Signs And Symptoms Of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding may include:
- Soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours
- Needing to wake up to change sanitary protection during the night
- Needing to use double sanitary protection to control the menstrual flow
- Menstrual bleeding that lasts longer than a week
- Symptoms of anemia, like fatigue, light-headedness and shortness of breath
- Passing blood clots larger than a quarter
- Restricting activities because of heavy menstrual flow
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How Do You Know If You Have Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Heavy menstrual bleeding interferes with your quality of life. Many people with heavy periods assume that periods are supposed to be inconvenient and uncomfortable. They may have watched people in their families live with heavy periods without seeking care and followed their example. But periods should never cause you to restrict activities or accept inconvenience.
During your period, you should be able to:
- Wear a standard pad or tampon every three to four hours without changing it.
- Wear a single menstrual product without having to double-up at any point.
- Leave your home without having to pack extra bags of pads or clothing changes.
- Live your life as usual, without missing work, avoiding going out in public, or skipping activities you enjoy.
If your periods are disrupting your life, it’s time to see your provider.
Symptoms Of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
- bleeding for more than eight days
- heavy blood loss during the menstrual period for example, soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several hours in a row
- needing to change your pad or tampon during the night
- have to change or restrict your daily activities due to your heavy bleeding
- bleeding or spotting between periods
- cramping and pain in the lower abdomen
- any vaginal bleeding after menopause.
If you think you may be experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding, you may find it useful to keep a pictorial blood loss assessment chart this can help you give your doctor an idea of how heavy your period is.
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When To See A Doctor
If your period lasts longer than a week, consider calling a doctor for advice. Depending on your symptoms, they may suggest setting up an in-person appointment for a physical exam.
On the other hand, if you think youre showing symptoms of a rare cause or if youre pregnant, see a doctor immediately.
If you experience severe heavy bleeding and youre soaking through four or more pads and tampons in a 2-hour period, go to an emergency room right away.
Is Losing Too Much Blood During Your Period Life
You might be asking, when should you go to the hospital for heavy menstrual bleeding? Blood loss from heavy periods can lead to a more severe, urgent medical condition. Heavy blood loss can decrease the amount of circulating blood in the body and the usual amount of oxygen the body needs. So, can losing too much blood during your period be life-threatening? The answer is, if youre experiencing any of the following while you have heavy vaginal bleeding, you should seek immediate medical attention:
- Shortness of breath
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What Happens To Your Body When You Have Heavy Bleeding
Untreated heavy or prolonged bleeding can stop you from living your life to the fullest. It also can cause anemia. Anemia is a common blood problem that can leave you feeling tired or weak. If you have a bleeding problem, it could lead to other health problems.
Which is worse a cut or a bleed?
Based on its severity, cuts may result in different amounts of bleeding. Although few cases might be different, most cuts, which are less deep than the others trigger smaller amount of blood. The deeper ones, on the other hand, might cause more severe bleeding, which involve more amount of blood.
Is it really painful to bleed to death?
Bleeding to death is very painful. It feels like the flu times ten, everything hurts and every cell in your body is screaming. In the sense of time, it doesnt take long to lose consciousness but it feels like forever because of the fear but most notably the pain.
How Do I Know Whats Causing My Heavy Periods
Your doctor will perform an evaluation and likely ask you a variety of questions about your menstrual cycle and how it affects your quality of life. Consider keeping a period log for multiple cycles that notes how many days of bleeding you experienced, how heavy your flow was, and how many sanitary products you needed to control it, and then share this log with your doctor.
From there, to determine the cause of your heavy menstrual bleeding, your doctor may order one or more of these tests:
- Blood test to screen for anemia, thyroid disorders, and blood-clotting issues
- Endometrial biopsy to assess the uterine tissue for abnormalities or growths
- Pap test to evaluate cells from the cervix for infection, inflammation, or cancer
- Ultrasound to evaluate the structure of the uterus, ovaries, and pelvis
Depending on what these initial tests find, your doctor may order additional tests or procedures:
- Sonohysterography to look for problems in the uterine lining
- Hysteroscopy to take a closer look inside the uterus
- Dilation and curettage to find whats causing the excessive bleeding
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Key Points About Heavy Period Bleeding
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How Do You Know If Your Bleeding Is Too Heavy
It is very difficult to determine whether your bleeding is too heavy. The best guide is to decide whether your period is having an impact on your quality of life if it is causing you to be housebound, interrupting your daily activities, or causing you stress and anxiety. The following signs might indicate you are experiencing heavy bleeding:
- bleeding or ‘flooding’ not contained within a pad/tampon
- changing a pad/tampon every hour or less
- changing a pad overnight
- clots greater than a 50-cent piece in size
- bleeding for more than seven to eight days.
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