Coping with heavy periods

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Period pains can be bad enough, but if you also experience heavy periods, ‘that time of the month’ can suddenly become unbearable. The actual medical term for this condition is menorrhagia, and increased blood loss often coincides with increased pain. The good news, however, is that having heavy periods will not necessarily mean there is an underlying health condition, but if in doubt, it’s wise to seek medical advice. Many women find that heavy periods greatly disrupt their lives, and you may feel that your monthly period affects you on an emotional and physical level.

The extent of bleeding

Because periods vary on an individual level, it is difficult to pinpoint just what determines heavy periods. As a guide, heavy blood loss is likely to be 60ml or more for the duration of your period. The best way to know whether your period is heavy is by monitoring whether blood loss seems to increase, and if you’re using far more pads or tampons than usual. Other indicators are visible blood loss on clothes and bedding.

Potential causes of heavy bleeding

Some women naturally suffer from heavier periods than others. Nonetheless, there are various underlying medical reasons which could also lead to increased blood loss, such as:

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – this is an infection that occurs in the upper genital tract which can cause pain and bleeding in between periods
  • Fibroids – These are non-cancerous growths that develop in the womb
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – this condition, although common, impacts the ovaries and may cause periods to become irregular and subsequently heavy
  • Underactive Thyroid Gland (hypothyroidism) when the thyroid fails to produce sufficient hormones, tiredness, increased weight and heavy periods may occur
  • Endometriosis – small pieces of the lining of the womb can be found outside of the womb, and this may cause heavier or more painful periods.

Diagnosis

If you are concerned, it’s important to speak to your GP who will refer you to a gynaecologist for tests, just to rule out any more serious causes. Although conditions such as cancer will be rare, it is better to be safe than sorry and to gain peace of mind. Your doctor may also take a blood test to ensure that you are not deficient of iron, as this will increase feelings of fatigue and make your monthly period harder to contend with.

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