Why am I having heavy periods?
Heavy periods can be a nightmare for those who suffer from it. It can be terribly inconvenient and downright scary at times. Your health can be affected as well and you may need to see your doctor. The medical name for heavy periods is Menorrhagia.
While some women have heavy periods than others, if the blood flow is overwhelming it could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition and you should seek medical attention to get a proper diagnosis.
Here are some of the questions that may arise if you are dealing with heavy periods.
How much blood is considered heavy bleeding?
What a heavy period looks like may vary from woman to woman. However, there may be some loose guidelines to give you an idea when “heavy” may be a cause for concern.
First, we may need to establish what an average amount of blood loss looks like for women. Most females will lose no more than 16 teaspoons of blood (80ml) for the duration of their period. The average amount being approximately 6 to 8 teaspoons.
Your menstrual flow is considered heavy if you are losing more than 80 ml per period and/or they are lasting for more than 7 days. Over time, you develop a sense of what your normal flow is like and can tell when there is a change.
How can I tell if my period is too heavy?
You can usually gauge that your periods are heavy if you are experiencing the following scenarios.
- Frequent sanitary product change- You usually have to change your pad or tampon every hour or so.
- Blood clots larger than 2.5cm- You can often feel the clots when they are exiting your body.
- Accidents are frequent-You often bleed through your linens at night and leak through your clothing.
- Use of more than one sanitary product simultaneously- You may find yourself doubling up. You may wear a tampon and have the extra protection of a pad.
- No flow tapering- Most of the time, your heaviest flow days would usually be day 1 and 2 of your period, by day 3, you usually experience a decrease in menstrual flow. However, with heavy periods, there may be no change in the amount of blood as the days go by.
What are the possible reasons for my heavy period?
There are numerous possible reasons why you may be bleeding excessively. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis. Here is a list of the conditions that are the usual suspects:
- Fibroids These are growths that develop on the walls of the uterus, resulting in very heavy periods. Bleeding caused by fibroids can be debilitating and can affect your normal everyday life. Premenopausal women are the worst affected.
- Hormonal imbalances Hormones within the female body may become imbalanced due to stress, medications, and illness, affecting menstrual flow.
- Endometriosis This condition is caused by the abnormal thickening of the uterine lining. Of course, if this lining is thicker than usual there will be more shed. The bleeding is heavy and often accompanied by severe menstrual cramps.
- Cancer Certain cancers that affect your reproductive organs may cause bleeding. These are cancers of the cervix, uterus, endometrium, or ovaries.
- Polyps These are growths that occur on the uterus and cervix that may be prone to bleed. The bleeding may occur after sex and between periods. Your period may also be usually heavy as well.
- Bleeding disorders These conditions prevent your blood from clotting properly resulting in acute blood loss. They are also often hereditary so you may have to talk to family members to get an idea of your medical history.
- Sexually transmitted diseases Pelvic inflammatory disease is often caused by STDs which may result in heavy bleeding. There may be other symptoms that accompany heavy bleeding like abnormal vaginal discharge and abdominal pain.
- Ectopic Pregnancy While this cause may be an isolated reason, it can be life-threatening. This occurs when fertilization occurs outside the uterus.
- Other Diseases Disease that may not necessarily be associated with the reproductive system like kidney, thyroid, and liver disease may affect menstrual flow.
Are there any treatment options for heavy periods?
Depending on what is causing your heavy periods, your doctor will brief you on your treatment options. Your doctor will most likely take the route of non-invasive medications first. These include hormonal or non-hormonal medications.
If medications do not work your doctor may suggest surgery and may discuss your options.
Can I faint from heavy periods?
The extreme blood loss may cause your iron levels to drop resulting in anemia Symptoms of anemia may include lightheadedness and dizzy. As a result, you may feel faint.
Should I see a doctor for a heavy period?
Yes, you should see a doctor if your period is heavy. While there may be nothing to worry about, it could a symptom of a more serious medical complaint. Conditions that may fall in this category are cancer and pregnancy complications to name a few.
Heavy periods should always be taken seriously. There may be an underlying condition that needs medical attention ASAP. If you are dealing with this issue, make a doctor’s appointment today.
- Bofill Rodriguez, M., Lethaby, A., Grigore, M., Brown, J., Hickey, M., & Farquhar, C. (2019). Endometrial resection and ablation techniques for heavy menstrual bleeding. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 1(1), CD001501. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD001501.pub5
- Santer, M., Wyke, S., & Warner, P. (2007). What aspects of periods are most bothersome for women reporting heavy menstrual bleeding? Community survey and qualitative study. BMC women’s health, 7, 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6874-7-8
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