Heavy periods are one of the most common worries for those who menstruate. But stress no more – healthcare advisor for intimate wellbeing brand, INTIMINA, Dr Shree Datta is here to remind us that heavy periods are not always necessarily a reason to worry by answering some of the most common questions about heavy periods:
1. Is it normal for people to get heavy periods?
It can be normal for some women to have heavier periods than others, as periods vary in frequency, length and duration from person to person. Life events can also alter periods, such as weight change or having a baby.
2. What does a heavy period mean? What causes it?
On average, the amount of blood lost during a period is roughly less than 80ml. Heavy periods can and affect people’s overall health and lifestyle so can be beneficial and is important to monitor. Signs to watch for include:
- Periods lasting longer than 7 days
- Using two forms of sanitary products together and having to change every 1-2 hours
- Bleeding through clothes and bedding
- Passing blood clots larger than a 10p coin
There are many causes for heavy periods including medical problems such as polyps, fibroids in the womb, PSCOS and thyroid disorder or blood clotting disorders, which are all things your gynaecologist would investigate.
3. How can heavy periods be managed?
It is important to first identify why you’re having heavy periods so you are given the right treatment, so your doctor may examine you and perform blood tests and ultrasounds to help find the cause.
If there are structural changes such as fibroids or polyps, an operation may be needed to treat this. There are different types of operations ranging from day procedures which can be done vaginally, to larger operations that require a stay in hospital.
Your doctor may also consider medication to stem your periods, for example, the contraceptive pill or the Mirena coil, whilst sometimes your doctor may consider medication such as tranexamic acid, which is taken during your period.
Iron tablets may also be advised, which can also aid in the prevention of feeling tired. However, if you have other medical problems such as hypothyroidism, it is important to ensure these are treated too.
4. What is classed as a heavy period?
As mentioned, it can be beneficial to monitor your periods so you can track whether your periods are lighter or heavier. Generally, losing over 80ml of blood is classed as a heavy period, but is difficult to measure.
It is recommended to record how long your periods last, how many times you have to change sanitary products and whether you are passing clots.
If you are doubling up on sanitary products and passing blood clots larger than a 10p coin, these may be signs your period is heavy.
Another sign is you may also feel tired at the end of a period and need to avoid daily activities such as exercise, or feel short of breath after activities such as climbing stairs.
5. When should you talk to a doctor about heavy periods?
Keep an eye on any change in the nature of your periods. If you notice that your periods are becoming longer, you are bleeding through your clothes, require two forms of sanitary products, and change your sanitary products frequently, consider consulting your doctor.
If you’re not sure, keep a menstrual diary and log these factors so that you can discuss them with your doctor.
6. Should people worry about heavy periods causing anaemia or iron deficiency?
This absolutely can happen, and signs to watch for include feeling tired or drained particularly towards the end of a period when undertaking activities such as climbing stairs.
Dr. Shree Datta, healthcare advisor for INTIMINA commented: “It is important not to forget to consider how often you have periods as well as their length and heaviness when monitoring them.
Review any medications you are taking as some can affect bleeding and consider whether you are going through a period of stress.”
Danela Žagar, Spokesperson for INTIMINA, commented: “Questions around heavy periods are so common and we are thrilled to have Dr. Shree Datta on hand to offer advice to help people navigate their way through any potential worries.”