When your period takes over your life

As part of a normal menstrual cycle, you should expect your period to arrive about every 28 days and to last for about four to seven days. But there are plenty of women out there who don’t have normal periods—and if you suffer from heavy bleeding, you know that your cycle’s “schedule” isn’t the only inconvenient part of menstruation.

Many doctors define heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) as soaking a pad and/or tampon every hour or less during your period. That makes for a lot of trips to the bathroom and can be a huge obstacle to a woman’s lifestyle, causing her to schedule her life around her period. Can you say ‘pain in the tuckus’?

What many women don’t know is that they don’t have to live at the mercy of their periods, and that they have safe and options to control that heavy bleeding including medical procedures and medication.

Signs that you’re having unusually heavy periods

Because one woman’s heavy period is another woman’s usual monthly annoyance, it can be difficult to self-identify what exactly is considered “heavy bleeding,” But it’s safe to say you’ll want to talk to your doctor about your period if you:

  • Bleed for more than eight to ten days, especially if repeated month after month
  • Bleed so much that it’s difficult to go to work, plan trips and go out during your time of the month
  • Flood, or fill, a tampon or pad (or both!) in a short amount of time or the passing of large clots
  • Experience bleeding so continuously heavy that you become anemic

Possible causes of heavy bleeding

Many women experience heavy bleeding, and for most of these women, it isn’t cause for concern. In fact, most of the time the causes are common and sometimes don’t even begin in the uterus. If you’re dealing with heavy bleeding, consider the list below and talk to your doctor about these possible causes:

  • Stress
  • Irregular bleeding (e.g. bleeding just a few times a year)
  • Certain medications (e.g. steroids)
  • Excess weight
  • Irregular thyroid
  • Fibroids
  • Polyps

What to do about heavy bleeding

If you’re worried about or just plain tired of heavy bleeding, call your doctor. If you don’t already have a doctor in your area, you can find a doctor here or call (317) 338-4HER to talk with a registered nurse.

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