Frequently asked questions about heavy menstrual bleeding
The period (also called menstruation) is only one part of a remarkable process controlled by hormones within the menstrual cycle. Each month, the womb prepares for pregnancy by growing the lining of the uterus - if no pregnancy happens, the lining is shed via the vagina, resulting in the period. You can learn more about periods here
Heavy menstrual bleeding, or menorrhagia, is a medical condition defined by abundant or prolonged blood loss during menstruation that has a negative impact on a woman’s physical, emotional and social quality of life. Heavy menstrual bleeding affects one in three women at any time of their reproductive life; however, there are multiple treatment options available, so you don’t need to put up with it.
Find out more about heavy menstrual bleeding here
A period will vary from woman to woman. However, a good indication that blood loss is excessive is if you experience any of the following:
- Using an unusually high number of tampons or pads, i.e. changing your tampon or pad every 2 hours or less, for consecutive hours
- A regular tampon holds about 5ml, so average blood loss (30-40ml) would soak 6-8 tampons. If you soak 16 or more tampons on a menstrual cycle, this is considered heavy menstrual bleeding
- Needing to use double protection, i.e. tampons and pads together, or else you will leak onto your clothes
- Experiencing flooding (heavy bleeding) through your clothes
- Needing to get up during the night to change pads or tampons, or using double protection at night to make sure you don’t leak through to the bed sheets
Not sure if you are suffering with heavy periods? Take our quiz
Heavy periods (also known as heavy menstrual bleeding or menorrhagia) can be due to a number of reasons, related to uterine structural changes or not. Most of the time there is no uterine condition and heavy periods are due to a hormonal imbalance. However, in some cases, there might be an underlying uterine condition, most commonly fibroids. If you are suffering with heavy periods, it is important to speak with your doctor to establish a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options for you.
Find out more about the causes of heavy periods here
Speak to your doctor to help find the right treatment for your heavy periods. There are multiple treatment options available to you, that differ in mode of action, regimen and efficacy. Treatment selection will depend on your medical history and your specific situation.
As well as treating heavy periods, there are a few things you can do to better cope day-to-day. Check out our Menstruation life hacks
Periods are a normal part of a woman’s reproductive life. Every woman’s period is different and some will have a heavier flow, but your period shouldn‘t get in the way of your day-to-day life. If your period is so heavy that it is having a significant impact on your life, then you should speak to your doctor about it. Not sure? Why not complete our quiz to find out if you might be experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding.
Periods should not cause anemia – therefore, if blood loss is so abundant that it causes anemia, this is a sign of heavy menstrual bleeding. Anemia is a condition in which you don't have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body's tissues which can make you feel tired and weak. Symptoms for anemia include tiredness, shortness of breath and dizziness. You should speak to your doctor for advice and to discuss treatment options.
Iron is necessary to build up healthy red cells. Due to abundant blood loss, heavy periods can cause iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia. Anemia is a condition in which you don't have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body's tissues which can make you feel tired and weak. Speak to your doctor for more information, and don’t forget to have a healthy diet to give your body plenty of iron.
Menorrhagia is a medical term for heavy menstrual bleeding, defined by heavy or prolonged bleeding with abundant blood loss during menstruation causing a negative impact on a woman’s physical, emotional and social quality of life.
HMB affects one in three women; however, there are multiple treatment options available, so you don’t need to put up with it.
Watch our video on HMB to find out more.
Heavy menstrual bleeding is a recognized medical condition and there are multiple treatment options available to you. Your doctor will be able to discuss these with you and to recommend the most appropriate one regarding your medical history and specific situation. In case the first treatment doesn’t work, there are other options available – you should discuss this with your doctor – who will be able to help.
You should not be reluctant to talk to your doctor about your period. It’s normal to have questions about it, and if you feel that your period has a negative impact on your quality of life you should discuss this with your doctor – they will be able to help! Make sure you prepare for your visit to the doctors, to get the most from your appointment.