Is having heavy periods normal? Or how can I tell if my heavy period is abnormal? These are normal questions to ask when you’re experiencing a heavy flow.
No one likes worrying about whether or not they’re going to leak through their tampon or fill up their pad mere hours after changing it, but for many women with heavier periods and heavy menstrual cycles, it’s just what happens with their cycles every month. In rare cases, bleeding too much during your period can be a cause for concern and it’s best to check with your doctor to rule any of those out. While there’s no such thing as a “normal” period (everyone’s body is different and will have a different menstrual bleeding experience), you can gauge whether your heavier or longer periods are a cause of legit concern, or if you’re just built to bleed a little more every month.
What is menorrhagia?
Menorrhagia is the fancy, official medical name for long or heavy periods. On the flip side, metrorrhagia is the term for heavy or long bleeding between periods.
What qualifies as “heavy menstrual bleeding”?
Studies suggest you will lose an average of around 85 grams of blood per menstrual cycle, which is about 2 shot glasses worth (6 tablespoons) but there’s a wide range since every period may be different. Now, you might be a little taken aback when you pull out a soaked Super Absorbency tampon every few hours, but keep in mind that Super tampons are designed to hold 9-12g. If you’re concerned you’re going through tampons quicker than you think you should, it may be time to see a doctor for your heavy menstrual bleeding. Having a heavy period isn’t necessarily a bad thing if that’s your body’s baseline. It’s very normal to need super tampons during your heaviest days, and then switching to regular, and Lite as your period comes to an end. Tampax offers the full range of absorbencies from Lites to Ultra to give you ultimate protection on your heaviest days and smooth removal on your lightest.
What are the symptoms of menorrhagia?
To find out if you have heavier periods and menorrhagia, ask yourself the following about your period:
- Does your period last longer than seven days?
- Is your period so heavy that you have to change your pad or tampon every one to two hours?
- Do you often also get spotting between periods?
If so, you may need to see a doctor to figure out more behind your heavy period. Your doctor can help you rule out or investigate things like any serious potential health concerns or bleeding disorders.
How can I manage heavy periods?
Going on certain forms of hormonal birth control may help with your heavy menstrual cycle as these balance your hormones out more. If you see your doctor for it, they may also recommend iron supplements, or other treatments. Trying a higher absorbency tampon may also help. Tampax offers Super, Super Plus, and Ultra tampons that may be a better fit for your flow.
What causes heavy periods?
Every month, the lining of your uterus sheds thanks to your menstrual cycle. This process relies on hormones like estrogen and progesterone to be balanced and working in tandem in order to make sure every month flows smoothly (lol get it?). Whether it’s due to a hormonal imbalance, or another underlying cause, some people experience heavier periods each month than others. While this can be an annoyance, it’s rarely bad enough for you to have to worry about blood loss or anything serious.
Ironically, while hormonal birth control might help heavy periods, non-hormonal birth control like the copper IUD, might actually make your periods heavier and cramps more painful.
Going to see a doctor can also rule out uterine fibroids or growths, cancer, bleeding disorders, inflammation, thyroid conditions, or liver or kidney disease. Certain blood-thinning medications may also impact your period and cause a heavy menstrual cycle.
What’s the best tampon protection for people with heavy periods?
You might be reassured to know that tampons come in industry standard absorbency ranges, with Super Plus and Ultra offering the most absorbency – 12-15g, and 15-18g, respectively. You’re likely already doing this, but go for the most heavy duty tampon you can find and change as often as needed for your flow. You may find that you need to start off with Ultra absorbencies for a few days, and then eventually taper down to Super Plus, and then Super absorbencies as your period ends. If you wear tampons, adding a pad or pantyliner for extra protection never hurts, and the peace of mind knowing there’s an extra barrier between you and your undies is worth it.
When should I go to the doctor or hospital for heavy bleeding?
If you notice your heavy period matches the symptoms above, it’s not a bad idea to go get it checked out. And if you ever feel physically weak from the loss of blood, then it’s def time to call your doctor or visit your local urgent care clinic, as blood loss from your period is pretty rare, and therefore certainly something you’ll want to check out as soon as possible.