Understanding and managing heavy periods
Every menstrual cycle, you lose a lot of blood. You envy women who can get through their periods with two tampons: you fill them in two hours! Congratulations: you have heavy periods , or even bleeding periods . From what flow do we speak of heavy periods? What are the causes and consequences? How to manage heavy periods on a daily basis? In this article, we tell you everything to help you understand them better.
What are heavy periods?
When it comes to heavy periods, there are two concepts to distinguish: the amount of blood lost during periods and the duration of periods.
Periods are considered heavy if:
- the amount of blood passed during menstruation exceeds 80 mL
- and/or the duration of bleeding exceeds 6 days .
Vocabulary to know
- bleeding periods
How do you know if you have heavy periods?
You have the impression that you are quickly “filling up” your sanitary pads, you tend to often have leaks, you are forced to stack pads at night or on bad days… it is possible that you have heavy periods. To find out, it is necessary to estimate the quantity of blood lost during your period and to estimate the duration of your period – all over a period of at least three cycles.
Estimate the length of your period
To estimate the duration of your period, it's easy. At the time of the first day, count 1. Then count the days until the last day of your period. Generally, even if it is spotting (a few drops of blood) or colored, pinkish or brownish vaginal discharge, it is considered that the period has not yet finished.
Estimate the amount of blood lost during your period
To estimate the amount of blood lost during your period, there are two solutions:
- Count the number of filled cups: the cup (or menstrual cup) is the hygienic protection that allows you to count as accurately as possible the amount of blood you lose. Look at the size of your cup and count how many you fill during your period to estimate the amount of blood lost.
- Count the number of filled sanitary protections: if you do not wear a cup and prefer other types of menstrual protection, the calculation will be less precise but it is still possible. The Higham score is a tool that allows you to estimate the abundance of your periods: discover a sheet allowing you to calculate it over three consecutive cycles.
Use a period tracker app
To help you track your periods, don't hesitate to discover period tracking applications . These apps that can be installed on your phone to track you constantly allow you to track the first day of your period, the last day, the flow, your symptoms and so on! We recently offered you a summary of all the existing period tracking applications .
Is it normal to have hypermenorrhea?
There are no rules when it comes to periods. This is our line when it comes to menstruation! In other words, every menstruator has different periods and knows them. This is why it is difficult to establish normality.
This being said, it is possible to give an average. On average, menstruating people have periods lasting 2 to 5 days and a period quantity of 50 to 80 mL .
Also, periods lasting more than 6 days and a quantity of more than 80 mL are outside the average . However, this does not mean that it is not normal or of pathological origin. Some menstruating people can have bleeding periods without associated health problems.
What are the causes of bleeding periods?
Bleeding periods can be physiological or pathological. In other words, they can be completely normal or a symptom of an illness or health problem.
Heredity and genetics
When it comes to periods, heredity and genetics count for a lot ! If you come from a family where menstruators have long, heavy periods, it's very possible that you have them too!
Age and life events
The menstrual cycle is constantly changing in menstruating people. It evolves with age – we don't have the same rules at puberty, at 20 and at 40 – and with events that can affect your privacy and your life: contraception, pregnancy, stress, bereavement… The variation hormones caused by these events influence our cycles and transform them! We can thus notice a disruption of our menstruation.
The copper IUD, formerly called the “copper IUD”, is known to increase the flow of periods, particularly in the first cycles following insertion. This is one of its disadvantages and one of the reasons why this contraception is not always well tolerated. If you have a copper IUD and notice an increase in your period flow, talk to your doctor.
If you suddenly notice a change in the flow of your periods, it is possible that it is pathological in origin. A hormonal imbalance , caused by thyroid problems or linked to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), can thus be the cause of an increased flow of periods. Usually, a hormonal imbalance is accompanied by other symptoms. In the case of PCOS, it is possible that your periods are also more painful, that you have acne or that you suffer from hirsutism (presence of a lot of hair).
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that develop in the uterus, cervix or even the fallopian tubes. They can lead to periods with a heavier flow but also more painful, as well as bleeding outside of periods. In some cases, these fibroids may require surgery to remove them. If your periods have recently become heavier and are accompanied by other symptoms, do not hesitate to consult a doctor for their opinion.
Endometriosis is a disease of the endometrium, the lining of the uterus that grows on the wall of the uterus during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle to accommodate the fertilized egg. In healthy people, the endometrium grows during the luteal phase and is expelled during menstruation. In people with endometriosis, the endometrium develops in the uterus but also beyond (in organs outside the uterus, particularly in the intestines) and is therefore not entirely expelled during menstruation. Periods are thicker and more painful.
A heavier period can also be a sign of a blood clotting problem . This may be caused by an illness or by taking a blood thinner as part of treatment for another illness. If you are currently taking treatment and it tends to make your periods longer or more frequent, you can talk to your doctor.
⚡Aspirin thus has the particularity of being a painkiller which thins the blood. This is why we recommend not taking it during your period!
What are the consequences ?
Although they are not necessarily serious or synonymous with health problems, heavy menstrual bleeding can be a real burden for menstruating people who experience them monthly.
On the physical level
On a physical level, the main consequence of this type of period is anemia: menstruating people who have a heavy flow often suffer from anemia (lack of iron). This is especially true among young women (15-25 years old). Anemia can cause vagal discomfort. If you regularly have discomfort following your period, it is possible that you are anemic: consult a doctor, he will order a blood test.
On an emotional level
Menorrhagia can also be difficult to deal with emotionally!
- Stress: fear of a leak, fear that your period will arrive at any time
- Difficulty to manage: not being able to manage your periods is often frowned upon: if errors and leaks are associated with adolescence, older women should no longer struggle with their periods... except that periods can lead to leaks at any age!
- Inability to do certain activities: certain high-volume rules require changing clothes every hour to avoid excesses. Impossible to go to the beach or ski with this type of problem!
- Length of periods difficult to live with: having periods for 7 days can be difficult to manage... especially if your cycle is short. With a 21-day cycle, you may find yourself having your period every two weeks!
If your bleeding is “normal”, without pathological cause, this has no impact on your fertility .
Conversely , if your periods are associated with other disorders, such as endometriosis or PCOS, it is possible that this may have an impact on your fertility. Thus, PCOS is the leading cause of infertility among women of childbearing age. However, it is not periods with heavy flow that affect your fertility but all the consequences of these diseases.
How to deal with heavy menstrual bleeding?
Managing your periods is possible, first with appropriate menstrual protection, then with feminine hygiene products and finally with natural solutions. It is also possible to seek medical help.
Learning to know each other
Managing your periods better means first and foremost knowing them. A majority of heavy periods are not heavy for the entire period. It is possible that they will be particularly hemorrhagic during day 1 or during days 2 and 3 of your cycle. Observe your periods and your different cycles to better anticipate them!
🌈 You can use a period tracker app to better understand your period and track it. Thanks to these applications, you can record the days when the flow is the strongest and thus see if there is a recurrence – all without representing too much mental load!
Use appropriate menstrual protection
You certainly know it, but you might as well put it out there anyway: it is essential to choose menstrual protection adapted to your flow to better manage your periods. Opt for menstrual protection for heavy flows .
💡Did you know? The menstrual cup and disc are the two menstrual protection products that last the longest while retaining the greatest blood flow. Don’t hesitate to try these means of menstrual protection! 🌈 In our store, you can find the Luneale cup in medical silicone . Its advantage? It comes in size L to handle the heaviest flows!
And if you don't know which sanitary protection to choose, know that you can put on several menstrual protections at the same time . It is totally possible to put tampon + sanitary napkin or cup + sanitary napkin or even tampon + menstrual panties. This type of suit will protect you well, especially if you do not have the opportunity to change in the allotted time.
In our store find:
- 🌈 Organic menstrual pads from the Jho brand are organic. They exist in normal and super absorption and their fins help to avoid leaks as much as possible!
- 🌈 Tampons in size L from the Jho brand. Their advantage? They are available with applicator and absorption in size L.
- 🌈 Menstrual panties for heavy flows from the Smoon brand. Available in black, carmine and khaki, it exists from XS to XXL! Moreover, you can find our tips for washing your period panties and maintaining them but also how to use these menstrual panties.
Use feminine hygiene products
We'll say it again for form's sake: periods are not dirty. However, losing liters of blood (wow, that's an exaggeration!) and blood clots doesn't help you feel fresh during your period! To be more comfortable during your period, here are some tips:
- Change your cup in the shower: if you use the cup as a means of menstrual protection, changing in the shower rather than in the toilet will be the best way to feel immediately fresh!
- Opt for very gentle intimate products: water is enough to clean your vulva during your period. However, using gentle soaps can help soothe the irritation that sometimes occurs during periods. 🌈 In store, we really like the gentle intimate cleansing gel from the Jho brand . Organic, it accompanies you in the shower to bring you comfort while you wash.
- Use intimate wipes when you're out and about: Intimate wipes give you freshness after you've changed menstrual protection.
Support yourself with natural solutions
Natural solutions will not cure you or allow you to limit your flow. But they can help you limit the negative effects you feel at this time.
On the one hand, you can use natural solutions to support your body that has lost important minerals. This is the case for iron, this lack often creates iron deficiencies (anemia).
On the other hand, you can support your body against period pain. If the latter are not directly linked to heavy periods, they are often linked to diseases such as endometriosis or PCOS – two pathologies which cause painful periods. Find our article on how to manage painful periods.
Support yourself with medication
Medicines prescribed by your doctor can have several uses:
- Limit the flow: hormonal contraception (contraceptive pill, ring or implant) has the role of smoothing the level of hormones in your body. In turn, this can have an influence on the flow and duration of your periods: this is not systematic but several menstruating people have noticed this change;
- Support your body: we talked about it just before: menstrual periods can have the effect of weakening the body (in particular by causing the loss of minerals important to it, such as iron). Medical treatments may be prescribed to support your body (iron treatment);
- Limit pain: if you suffer from painful periods, using medications such as painkillers can help you get through your periods better. On this subject, find our article on how to manage painful periods.
Should you consult a doctor?
It is interesting to consult a doctor in four different situations:
- At the very beginning of your life as a menstruator: periods with a heavy flow can be normal and hereditary but they can also be linked to pathologies that are sometimes detectable from the first period. This is why carrying out additional examinations is interesting;
- If they are accompanied by very severe pain (or other surprising symptom): heavy menstrual bleeding can be completely normal. But the latter can also be caused by pathologies which are accompanied by other symptoms such as painful periods or bleeding between periods;
- If your periods change suddenly: in general, if your menstrual cycle and your periods change suddenly and if you observe these changes over 3 consecutive cycles, it may be interesting to consult a doctor. Indeed, if until now you had short periods and/or with a slow flow and they change radically to become heavy, this may be linked to a pathology. ⚡Please note: periods can change in a “normal”, physiological way, due to specific events (pregnancy, bereavement, stress or even contraception).
Tips for reducing period flow
These rules have two origins: physiological and pathological .
With the exception of taking hormonal contraceptives, which will regulate hormones, there are, at present, no medical or natural solutions to reduce the flow in the case where they are linked to reasons physiological. Talk to your doctor or gynecologist, they will be able to help you choose your hormonal contraception.
If the origin is pathological, the solution to reduce the flow of periods is to treat the pathology from which you suffer. This may have the effect of reducing blood flow.
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