So, When It Comes To Your Period, How Heavy Is Heavy?
It’s always worth a shout-out from the rooftops about how wonderfully unique our bodies are. Women’s boobs are all different, our bits ‘down there’ can be different, and of course periods differ wildly too.
From the ouch-factor of cramps to how much flow is flowing, one woman’s “woooahhh wtf?” is another’s “yep, that’s totally normal.” So when it comes to heavy periods, how heavy is real-deal, off-the-scale heavy?
The official term for heavy periods is menorrhagia, meaning an above average or prolonged level of bleeding in a menstrual cycle. “Bleeding during an average period is supposed to be around 80ml (less than half a cup), but a lot of women do have more bleeding than this,” says Mr Pisal, consultant gynaecologist at London Gynaecology.
“You can call your periods heavy though, if you are passing lots of clots or having to constantly use double protection, changing protection more frequently than every four hours or if your periods are making you anaemic.”
If you’ve always bled heavily, you may think your flow is normal – after all, you’ve had nothing to compare it with – so getting things checked out by your doctor is a good idea.
Mr Pisal says that heavy periods can be an indicator of underlying problems. If you’re tired and anaemic, speak up and your doctor can arrange an ultrasound scan and blood tests to check haemoglobin, thyroid function tests and iron levels.
Possible causes for heavy periods can include:
Uterine fibroids – fibroids are non cancerous growths on and around the womb and are often present with heavy periods.
Endometriosis – the condition where endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus can result in painful and heavy periods.
Polycystic ovaries – periods can be less frequent but heavier if you’re suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome.
Underactive or overactive thyroid – thyroid problems can cause heavier and irregular periods.
Perimenopausal changes – a few months / years before menopause, periods can change pattern and become heavier.
Endometrial hyperplasia and cancer – this can be a rare cause of menorrhagia.
So apart from choosing to swerve white jeans for a week of every month, do you really know how heavy your periods are? Take the quick NHS test here, to find out.