What defines a “heavy” period?
A period is considered heavy if the flow is such that you have to change your pad or tampon every hour or two, or if your menstrual phase lasts longer than seven days. Heavy periods are a major issue for millions of women, forcing them to miss school, work, and social engagements, and causing undue physical pain and stress. And while heavy periods can usually be managed through medical intervention, many women simply don’t know what qualifies as “normal” and what as problematic.
How do I know if I have heavy periods?
It can be difficult to judge for yourself whether your period is heavy or not – after all, chances are your own flow is the one you’re most familiar with! However, there are certain things you can look for to determine for yourself whether your periods are normal, or if it’s time to ask for help:
- If you change need to change your pad or tampon every hour or two
- If you wear both a pad and tampon when you are menstruating
- If you notice large blood clots
- If you have to wake up during the night to change your tampon
- If you bleed through your pad or tampon and onto your clothes
- If you miss work, school, social events, exercise, or other activities because of your periods
- If you have severe pain and cramping with your periods
- If your periods make you feel stressed or fatigued
- If your life revolves around your period while it’s going on
So I have heavy periods – what now?
Ask for help – that’s what doctors are for! Once they have identified the cause (and there are many), healthcare providers have a number of ways to help manage heavy periods, including anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, hormonal treatments, surgical options like a hysterectomy, as well as a simple outpatient procedure called endometrial ablation.
Only your doctor can determine if endometrial ablation is right for you, so you should speak to him or her if you are concerned about your periods. Heavy periods are a major problem, but they don’t have to be a permanent one. For more information and support on heavy periods, including a quiz to find out if you might have them yourself, the ChangeTheCycle blog is a great resource. Tap the button below to learn more!
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