Hello my lovely Rag readers! Today’s blog post is about heavy periods, how to diagnose if you have a heavy period flow, and how to manage if you do.
Since all periods are different, it’s hard to classify exactly what is considered a “heavy” period. However, there are a few key things that indicate how medical professionals classify a “normal” and a “heavy” menstrual flow. Remember, your period is almost always heavier within the first three days of your cycle. The severity in your period flow can also change from month to month depending on lifestyle changes, eating habits, and hormonal factors.
On average, menstruating people will lose anywhere from 30-40 ml of blood during their monthly cycle - this is considered a “normal” flow. A person who suffers from a heavy menstrual flow, otherwise known as menorrhagia, typically loses about 60 ml per cycle.
Each normal sized pad or tampon can hold up to about 5 ml of blood. If you have a heavy period, you would be soaking through about 12 tampons per menstrual cycle. I say soaking through because I, for instance, go through more than 12 tampons per cycle. However, it’s not because I have a heavy flow. I typically use more than 12 tampons per menstrual cycle because I change my tampon nearly every time I pee, regardless of whether it’s full or not, due to personal preference.
The best way to diagnose if you have a heavy period is to count the number of tampons or pads that are either full when you remove them or that have already leaked through. If you’re coming in around 12, this may indicate you suffer from a heavy period. Additionally, if you find your flow is super heavy for more than five days of your cycle, you could suffer from menorrhagia.
Do I have a heavy flow?
Every period is different, but here are some key signs that could indicate you suffer from a heavy period:
- Your tampon or pad is completely full and needs to be changed every 1-2 hours for 5 or more days of your cycle.
- You always need to use added protection to prevent excess leakage (ie. pads, panty liners or Knixteens).
- You always experience period clotting, or your clots are wider than 1 inch in diameter.
- You can’t partake in your day-to-day activities because of your menstrual flow.
- You’re feeling anemic, extremely weak or tired throughout your entire period.
If you experience one or more of the above symptoms on a regular basis, then you might be suffering from a heavy menstrual period.
What causes heavy periods?
Most of the time, a heavy period is more of an inconvenience or annoyance as opposed to a serious medical issue. However, if you’re experiencing some of the symptoms listed above or any of the ones listed in our blog post about extreme period symptoms, you should consult a physician. It could be nothing, but doing so will bring you some peace of mind.
There are many reasons that don’t require medical intervention that could explain why your period is heavy. For instance, during puberty your hormone levels are still balancing out (they’re new to this whole maturity thing!) and this can cause an imbalance of your progesterone and estrogen levels, leading to excessive menstrual bleeding and a heavier period.
Also, if you’ve recently stopped using birth control or have recently given birth, your period will most likely be a little heavier all of a sudden. In all these cases, the severity of your flow will eventually balance itself out. If your period is still really heavy doesn’t and you’re concerned, schedule a visit to the doctor.
How do I manage a heavy menstrual flow?
For some, having a heavy period flow is just a natural way of life and has nothing to do with an underlying medical issue. If this is the case for you, fear not! There are plenty of ways to deal with heavy bleeding on your period, although it could require a little trial and error.
One solution is birth control. While birth control is a contraceptive, this is not its only benefit. Many doctors prescribe birth control to people who want to regulate their menstrual flow and reduce its severity. I’m not saying birth control is the only option for a 13-year-old with heavy flow, but it’s still one option to consider.
Using a menstrual cup instead of a pad or tampon could also be a good solution to heavy period flow. Most menstrual cups hold 3x more fluid than a super tampon, plus they’re good for the environment! Naturally, I believe the best backup protection you can get is our ‘Oh-No’ Proof Underwear. Not only is it good for the environment, but it’ll keep you feeling dry and smelling as fresh as a daisy.
When it comes to heavy menstrual bleeding, you should also pay close attention to your diet. There’s a reason we’re told to stay away from caffeine and super-salty, high-fat food while we’re on our period. Not only can this kind of food/drink make your period cramps and bloating worse, it can actually make your flow heavier. Swap out that bag of chips for a bag of carrots instead - seriously, vitamin A has been proven to decrease menstrual flow.
If none of these DIY fixes are helping you cope with your heavy flow: call your doctor! I seriously can’t say that enough. It’s important to know your body and take charge of your health, and calling in a professional when you’re feeling unsure about a heavy period or need an extra hand is the best thing you can do. More so, there are surgical fixes available for excessive menstrual bleeding, so if this is something you feel you could benefit from, it’s worth speaking to your doctor about it.
Using period panties to manage a heavy period
Heavy periods happen: period. They can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and a little smelly. But with period panties, they can also be super manageable.
While women throughout history might have used wood, wool, and even papyrus to manage heavy periods, today we use period panties. When used alongside a tampon or pad, they can help manage excessive menstrual bleeding and prevent leaking. You can walk, run and dance with you ‘Oh-No’ Proof Bikini and trust that they will keep you leak-free and feeling fresh.
Period underwear + flow tips
Our underwear has odor-crushing fabric that keeps leaks (and smells) locked in. When Aunt Flo comes for a visit, Knixteens are you perfect companion. Since they absorb 2-3 teaspoons of blood, they could be worn alone on lighter days of your cycle. However, if you’re reading this article and realizing you have a heavy flow, I recommend using period underwear strictly as backup protection!You just officially became the boss of your heavy period flow. To stop the excess leakage that inevitably comes with menorrhagia, stock up on our ‘Oh-No’ Proof Underwear.