What You Can Do
Make an appointment with your doctor or OB-GYN to find out why youre experiencing heavy periods, and if any of the above descriptions feel applicable to you, let your physician know. To diagnose the problem, Dr. Irobunda typically does a pelvic exam and performs an ultrasound, and sometimes refers patients out for an MRI or bloodwork.
Even if a heavy flow simply keeps you couch-bound, you dont have to be inconvenienced, Dr. Irobunda says. Insurance companies usually recognize heavy bleeding as a serious problem for quality of life and general health, she says, and often cover treatments and medications to help remedy the issue.
No matter the cause, there are many non-invasive, nonsurgical methods that can help address your heavy bleeding. Treatments include fairly simple remedies, such as iron supplements, birth control, hormone therapy, and prescription medication, or surgical options, such as removing polyps or fibroids. Together with your physician, you can find the best solution for you.
When Should You See A Doctor About Your Heavy Period
Again, whats considered heavy varies by person, according to Lucille Russo, M.D., an OB/GYN at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Illinois. For example, if youve had heavy periods all your life and been checked about it, that would be far less of a concern than if your periods suddenly became much heavier than usual.
1 out of 5 women deals with heavy periods, per the CDC.
Typically, I tell patients if they are soaking through a maxi pad or super tampon every hour for a few hours, they should call, says Dr. Russo. Also, if their periods are heavy and long, like lasting more than 10 days, or they are persistently bleeding between periods, they should contact their doctor.
Two other signs to make the call include seeing multiple clots that are bigger than 1-inch wide, and needing to us both pads and tampons at the same time, she adds.
Even if you dont have any of the underlying issues mentioned here, its worth speaking with your doctor about potential treatments, Dr. Russo says, because persistently heavy periods can often cause anemia, a condition where there arent enough healthy red blood cells to carry needed oxygen to your bodys tissues. That can lead to fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat with exercise.
Bottom line: In general, its likely you know when something seems wrong down thereget it checked to be safe.
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Yes, this includes infections of the sexually transmitted variety. Gonorrhea, chlamydia, or any infection on the lining of the uterus can cause heavy bleeding, Wysocki says. So if you have been having unprotected sex and are noticing unusual menstruation, its a good idea to see a doctor ASAP. If you do have an STD, there are many medications that can help you out.
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Reasons Your Period Is Lighter Than Usual According To Doctors
When most of us complain about our periods, we kvetch about those heavy flow days and the bloating, cramping, and exhaustion that can go along with them. So if you have a light period, a.k.a. hypomenorrhea, it might seem like a good thing. While less bleeding may very well make you more comfortable, it could be a sign somethings gone awry.
While most periods produce between 30 to 50 milliliters of blood, a person with hypomenorrhea makes substantially less than 30 milliliters per cycle, according to the book Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. Its pretty difficult to measure out your period in milliliters, but this is just a point of reference.
Lina Akopians, M.D., Ph.D., a specialist in reproductive endocrinology at the Southern California Reproductive Center, says that a period that lightens up substantially could be caused by a hormonal issue or a structural one . That said, here are the top reasons that might explain why your flow is so light.
The Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill
This reduces bleeding by at least a third in most women. It often helps with period pain too. It is a popular treatment with women who also want contraception but who do not want to use the LNG-IUS. If required, you can take this in addition to anti-inflammatory painkillers , particularly if period pain is a problem. See the separate leaflet called The Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill for more details. Other options which work in a similar way are combined hormonal contraceptive rings or patches.
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Why Is My Period Heavy One Month And Then Light The Next
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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.
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How Heavy Is Too Heavy For A Period
Its totally normal to worry about the amount of blood we lose each month and whether its normal. Many questions may arise: how many pads a day is normal? Is it normal to soak a pad in two or three hours? While theres no definite normal, you should call your doctor if you experience vaginal bleeding that soaks at least one tampon or sanitary towel an hour for over two hours consecutively. If you are experiencing any symptoms that you dont normally with your periods, such as lightheadedness or sharp pain, talk to a medical professional.
Youre Experiencing Early Signs Of Menopause
When a patient mentions a diminishing return on her tampon investment, the first thing Dr. Choi looks at is age. Menopause might be around the corner, but not always. Sometimes with aging the cycles change, she says, noting that its not necessarily a sign of infertility. Someone who needed to use a super pad in their 20s and early 30s may find they need less protection in their later 30s.
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Every Woman Is Different
From Dr. Bradleys perspective, its all about each womans choice. If a woman is healthy and doesnt have a problem coping with a heavier period, then doing nothing is the right option for her.
What matters most is that women knowtheir bodies and understand that there are alternatives to a hysterectomy ifheavy periods are a problem.
At no point in our livesshould our periods stop us from living, she says.
Reasons Your Period May Be Heavier Than Normal
Monthly parties in our pants are never fun, but when your period suddenly becomes heavier without explanation, they can also be rather frightening. What in the name of the Moon Goddess is going on? Who decided that this was the month to exhaust the entire state supply of tampons and pads? And could having a heavier period than normal point to a more serious medical condition?
The technical term for a heavy period is menorrhagia, and the question of “how much is too much?” is actually quite a tricky one. You may be surprised to know that the average period only causes between 30-40 mL of blood loss, and that the normal upper limit is about 80 mL if you’re experiencing more than that regularly, apparently it’s a sign of heaviness, but since most of us don’t actually weigh our menstrual blood, we rely on knowledge of “normal” cycles to diagnose what heaviness actually means. We’re most likely to bleed heavily in our teens and just before menopause, which are the periods when estrogen levels spike, but “heaviness” becomes an issue when you’re going through many sanitary items a day, are becoming anaemic, and/or there are blood clots larger than a quarter in your flow.
If you’re having severe problems, your doctor will likely prescribe something that increases the level of progestogen in your body, which slows down the growth of womb linings . Ibuprofen is also supposed to help, but don’t take that regularly as treatment without your doctor’s OK.
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Cervical Or Uterine Cancer
Gynecological cancers, including cervical and uterine cancer, are forms of cancer affecting female reproductive organs.
Anyone with female reproductive organs is at risk for gynecological cancer, and risk increases with age.
The HPV vaccine is recommended to help protect against cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.
Abnormal bleeding, including heavy bleeding and irregular discharge, is a common symptom of cervical, ovarian, uterine, and vaginal cancer.
Pelvic pain or pressure is another symptom of uterine cancer.
Treatments for gynecological cancers include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Symptoms of gynecological cancers vary both by location of cancer and the person experiencing it. Heavy bleeding can be a symptom of many disorders, so this symptom alone doesnt indicate cancer.
Do I Need Any Tests If I Have Heavy Periods
See your doctor if your periods change and become heavier than previously. For most women, the cause is unclear and there is no abnormality of the womb or hormones. However, it is very important to get it checked out properly.
A doctor may want to do an internal examination to examine your neck of the womb and also to assess the size and shape of your womb. However, an examination is not always necessary, especially in younger women who do not have any symptoms to suggest anything other than dysfunctional uterine bleeding.A blood test to check for anaemia may be performed. If you bleed heavily each month then you may not take in enough iron in your diet, needed to replace the blood that you lose. This can lead to anaemia which can cause tiredness and other symptoms. Up to 2 in 3 women with recurring heavy periods develop anaemia.If the vaginal examination is normal and there are no other associated symptoms, no further tests may be needed. The diagnosis is usually dysfunctional uterine bleeding and treatment may be started if required. Further tests may be advised for some women, especially if there is concern that there may be a cause for the heavy periods other than dysfunctional uterine bleeding. For example, if you:
If tests are advised then they may include one or more of the following:
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Reasons Your Period Is Heavier Than Usual
From no-biggie birth control changes to serious medical problems.
When it comes to menstruation, not all periods are created equal. Any Mean Girls fan knows that some women just have a heavy flow and wide-set vagina! And while you shouldnt worry if you typically use super tampons while your friends always grabbing the light ones, something might be up if your flow has dramatically changed and is now heavier than it usually is.
Women are definitely aware of whats normal for them, says ob-gyn Jennifer Ashton, M.D. If one of my patients is experiencing something irregular and it happens three months in a row, I like to see her.
From no-biggie birth control changes to serious medical problems, here are seven reasons why you might be bleeding more than usual.
Considering that hormonal birth-control pills often regulate and lessen periodsin fact, some doctors prescribe it specifically to lighten up heavy flowsit makes sense that if you switch to a non-hormonal pill or stop taking oral contraception completely, youre going to be going through your tampons faster. And although IUDs like Mirena also lighten periods, Ashton says that non-hormonal IUDs tend to cause heavier periods in most women. While this is generally normal, see a healthcare professional if your heavy bleeding continues three months after insertion.
What Is Menorrhagia And How Much Bleeding Is Too Much
A period usually lasts about 3-5 days and, on average, produces a total of 30-40 mL of menstrual blood. The medical definition of menorrhagia is passing more than 80mL of menstrual fluid over the course of a period. This is more than double the typical amount.
These numbers are probably meaningless to youunless you use a menstrual cup, in which you can see the actual volume of the blood youre shedding. Even then, were guessing youre probably not sitting on the toilet measuring out your blood like a goth scientist. So, if youre not sure whether your periods are technically heavy or not, look out for these other signs:
- Large blood clots
- Bleeding through tampons in less than an hour
- Needing to double up on pads and tampons to prevent leaks
- Bleeding for longer than a week
- Bleeding so much that you feel like you cant manage it
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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.
How Do I Know If My Periods Are Heavy
Heavy periods refers to heavy or prolonged blood loss that interferes with your quality of life. This could mean any of the following:
- you need to change your tampon or sanitary pad every hour
- blood leaks through to your clothes and bedding
- you need to change a pad overnight
- you pass blood clots larger than a 50 cent coin
- you bleed for more than 7 to 8 days
- the amount of blood loss causes you to stay home, affects your daily activities or makes you feel stressed
If heavy periods are affecting your everyday life, you can speak to your doctor about it. Your doctor can arrange tests to check for any health conditions that may be causing your heavy bleeding.
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Youve Lost Or Gained A Ton Of Weight
Fluctuating weight can mess with your menstrual cycle, making your periods a lot shorter or lighter. Thats because when you gain weight, storing more fat in your body can affect your hormone levels and throw them out of balance. In a similar way, losing weight from restricting calories can put your body into stress mode and create an imbalance of hormones. Dr. Akopians notes that your body needs a healthy balance between protein, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins, to keep operating normally.
A Period Thats Heavy On The First Day
Many women experience heavier bleeding on the first day of a period and lighter bleeding on the last days. A heavy flow that might get in the way of your normal activities is unusual.
Birth control changes
If you recently stopped using hormonal birth control, your periods may be very heavy in the first days as your cycle adjusts to the hormone changes.
Like birth control, medications you take may interfere with your cycle and lead to heavy bleeding on the first day of your period.
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Wait And See: Seldom The Best Option
A heavier flow one month is oftennot a cause for concern. But if you experience a noticeable increase in yourflow over a few months or have ongoing irregular periods, youshould see your doctor to check for an underlying cause. Conditions that maycause heavier bleeding include:
- Endometrial polyps.
And these all may need immediateattention. So its important to have a thorough evaluation to find out whatsgoing on. Your doctor should conduct tests specifically to diagnose orrule out these factors, Dr. Bradley says.
For example, a biopsy or regularultrasound isnt always enough. She says a specialized transvaginal ultrasound,also called saline infusion sonography, is often essential for a complete exam.
Its important for doctors toconsider the whole woman, she says.
And its equally important for womento know that there are options to help ease their monthly flow, or even stopit.
Reasons Why Your Period Is Suddenly Heavy
Being surprised with a excess bleeding or a seemingly unending cycle can be frustrating and concerning. Heres what to know.
Maybe your period feels like it goes on forever. Or maybe youre relying on heavy-duty tampons or pads, doubling up on feminine products, or waking up in the middle of the night to change them. If any of these hold true for you, you may have menorrhagia, a condition defined by a cycle that lasts more than seven days or produces heavy bleeding.
Weve been conditioned to think these symptoms are all normal, says Heather Irobunda, a board-certified OB-GYN with NYC Health + Hospitals. And it is true that heavy periods are common. According to research, up to 30 percent of women experience them.
But just because theyre prevalent doesnt mean you should have to accept them. Substantial blood flow can change how you live, forcing you to stay home and avoid social events on especially bad days. Worse, regular heavy bleeding can lead to anemia, Dr. Irobunda points out, a condition in which you lack healthy red blood cells to deliver oxygen to your organs. Anemia can place your brain and heart under chronic stress and potentially cause diminished mental and cardiovascular function over the long term. Women think, what harm is it doing? but over time and cumulatively, heavy bleeding is not good for your health, she says.
All the more reason to find out what may be causing an overwhelming periodand what you can do about it. Here are seven common culprits.
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