Everything you need to know about heavy periods

Abnormally heavy periods and prolonged bleeding are common concerns among girls and women of menstruating age.

They aren’t always a sign something is wrong, but they can have a negative impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing, so it’s important to get help if you need it.

The medical term for heavy periods is menorrhagia. This condition is estimated to affect one in every five women. But how heavy is too heavy?

It can be tricky to define what constitutes a heavy period because each woman’s menstrual cycle is different. What is heavy for one woman may not be for another. It is important to get to know your own cycle and learn what is and what isn’t normal for you.

The average woman will lose less than 80ml of blood during their period. There is no hard and fast rule, but most women lose between 6-8 teaspoons and no more than 16 in total during each monthly bleed.

A quick self-assessment using the following questions can help you determine if you are experiencing heavy periods:

– Do you bleed for more than 7 days?
– Are your periods so heavy they disrupt your daily life?
– Do you need to change your sanitary towel or tampon every hour or so?
– Do you pass large blood clots larger than a coin?
– Does your period ever leak through to your clothes?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should book an appointment with a gynaecologist to discuss your concerns.

Left untreated, heavy periods can cause complications like anaemia, which can leave you feeling weak and tired.

Some women experience heavy periods for no particular reason. Heavy periods may be normal for you, but that does not mean you have to suffer. There are plenty of treatment options that can help, including:

– Anticoagulant medication
– Herbal supplements

Sometimes, heavy periods can be caused by an underlying condition. It is important to see a gynaecologist to rule out any serious health issues, especially if your periods have become heavy suddenly or your cycle feels abnormal in any way.

Here are some conditions that can cause heavy periods:

– Fibroids
– Endometriosis
– Adenomyosis
– Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
– Polyps
– Diabetes
– Hypothyroidism
– Cancer of the womb

If your gynaecologist suspects any of the above, they will use blood tests, ultrasound scans or hysteroscopy to diagnose before making treatment recommendations.