Periods. They’re the ultimate milestone of womanhood. But, when you say hello to your crimson flow each month, you’re also welcoming a potential stream of period side effects. You know what we’re talking about. The cramps, headaches, body aches, mood swings, and what feels like a never-ending supply of blood.
You frequently question whether the volume of your period is ‘normal’. Because, you’ve seen CSI and you’re aware of crime scene appearances. You just aren’t so sure they should share a similarity with the inside of your knickers for 5-7 days of every month. And, since when should changing tampons feel like a sport performed hourly to avoid risk of leakage and embarrassment? Plain and simple, it rarely should.
So, relax. We’re here to help you understand that heavy periods are not the norm. They’re a symptom of underlying hormonal imbalances that can be improved via lifestyle changes. Are you ready to say goodbye to red-stained sheets and major period inconvenience? Let’s move.
First, let’s clarify what is considered a normal amount of period volume?
Menstrual fluid loss between 30 – 40 ml per cycle is considered normal, with amounts beyond 80 ml considered heavy. If you find yourself constantly soaking through a tampon or pad every 1-2 hours, this is a sign of heavy bleeding and we recommend chatting with your doctor about the full scope of symptoms you’re experiencing. Women who experience regularly heavy menstrual bleeding may have a condition called menorrhagia.
Although slightly impractical, you can estimate the volume of your period by keeping a rough maths tally throughout your cycle. Menstrual cups are the easiest method to gauge as they often include measurements on the side of the cup. If tampons are more your style, a fully saturated light tampon absorbs up to 3 ml of fluid. A regular sized tampon absorbs up to 5 ml of fluid, and a super-sized tampon absorbs up to 12 ml of fluid. The trusty overnight pad has an absorption capacity of 10-15 ml. Of course, seeing a doctor will provide you with a more accurate outcome than guess-timating ever will.
Why is your period heavy?
The first step towards getting your flow volume back to normal is understanding what’s caused you to bleed so much in the first place. Reasons for a heavy flow could be:
- Excess estrogen: When estrogen levels are high, the lining of the uterus thickens. This leads to heavy bleeding when you shed the thicker lining.
- Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid gland may cause heavy or irregular bleeding.
- Changes in birth control: If you’ve recently made the switch from hormonal birth control, you may experience heavy bleeding on the first day of your next cycle as your body adjusts.
- Growths in the uterus: Uterine polyps or fibroids (non-cancerous tumours) can cause heavier or longer periods.
- Non-hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs): Heavy bleeding is a common side effect of IUDs, lessening in severity as time passes.
- Issues related to pregnancy: The signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy (where the pregnancy develops outside the womb) and miscarriage are commonly mistaken for a very heavy period.
The correct diagnosis cannot be determined until you’ve seen a doctor. So, if you find yourself replacing pads or tampons every hour or suffering from heavy periods that prevent you from your normal everyday life, arrange an appointment with your doctor asap.