That icky feeling in your pants that we women are only too well familiar with is definitely not funny. However, when the bleeding gets heavier than usual without prior warning or any sort of explanation, things can seem quite frightening.
Can heavier than normal bleeding during your period be the symptoms of some serious medical condition? Or is there nothing to panic about?
How Can You Tell Between Normal And Too Much Blood Flow?
A heavy period is technically termed as “menorrhagia”. The question of “how much bleeding is too much?” is a tricky one to answer accurately.
Typically, the average period causes only 30-40 ml of blood loss, with a normal upper limit of roughly 80 ml. Experiencing bleeding that is more than that on a regular basis is apparently a sign of heavy blood flow. However, since we never actually weigh our menstrual blood, we find ourselves relying on our knowledge of “normal” cycles to help diagnose what a heavy period actually means.
In general, we are most likely to experience heavy blood loss in our teenage years and right before menopause. These are times when estrogen levels are at their highest. However, if you’re changing your sanitary napkins multiple times in a day, or are becoming anemic, and/or noticing blood clots that are larger than a quarter in your flow, you may have something you need to be concerned about.
7 Reasons Why You May Be Bleeding More Than Usual On Your Period
Here are some common reasons as to why your blood flow may be heavier than usual during your period.
1. A Recent Change In Your Birth Control
Hormonal birth control pills often help control periods. In fact, many gynecologists specifically prescribe birth control pills to help bring down the amount of blood flow during a heavy period. Therefore, it makes sense that you’ll end up using your entire pack of menstrual supplies much faster if you stop taking oral contraception completely or switch to a non-hormonal pill.
Even though intrauterine devices (IUDs) can help lighten periods, the non-hormonal variety may cause heavier periods in women. This is normal in most cases, but if the heavy bleeding persists for three months of insertion, it is recommended you visit a doctor immediately.
2. You’ve Reached Perimenopause
Plenty of younger women may think they don’t fall under perimenopause – the 4-10 month transition that eventually leads up to menopause. Perimenopause may begin even at the age of 30. While it is not possible to predict the exact year and month that you’re going to become menopausal, it may be noted that menstrual changes are the first sign that these are changes related to menopause.
3. You’re Taking Anti-Coagulants
Anticoagulants or blood thinners are very often taken to bring down the occurrence and cause breaking up of dangerous blood clots. Anticoagulants like aspirin, therefore, allow blood to flow more easily through the body, but this also means that they will lead to an increase in blood flow through your uterus during your period. Consulting a doctor will be beneficial in figuring out how to cure this problem.
4. You Have A Blood Disorder
Often, blood disorders may be the cause of unusually heavy periods. There are a variety of blood conditions; however, about 2 to 4 million Americans have been found to suffer from von Willebrand disease (VWD). This means their blood lacks in a certain protein that is essential for the clotting of blood. Consult your doctor if you suspect you may have this problem.
5. You Have Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are small-sized, non-cancerous growths within the uterus. They may sound intimidating but are actually very common in women. One of the main symptoms of uterine fibroids is a heavy flow of blood and is sometimes accompanied by bleeding or blood clots in between periods. In extreme cases, uterine fibroids can incapacitate a woman a couple of times in a year. In this case, it is important that you talk to a healthcare professional about it. Sometimes, this can be corrected with the help of simple solutions like taking birth control pills, getting an IUD or any other form of non-contraceptive medication.
6. You Have A Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
It is estimated that about 5-10 percent of women have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — and roughly 50 percent of those women go half their lives without even realizing that they have such a condition.1 Women with PCOS may have a cluster of cysts (that are often compared to a string of pearls) around their ovaries that could result in heavier periods. The ovulation stage is responsible for triggering conditions that cause the uterus to shed its lining. This stage is usually irregular for women with PCOS, which means that there is nothing to encourage the uterus to shed its lining. As a result, the uterine lining will only continue to thicken and can later give way to heavy periods.
7. You Have An Infection
This also includes the sexually transmitted type of infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or any other infection that directly affects the uterine lining to result in heavy bleeding. If you’ve been having unprotected sex and are beginning to notice menstruation that’s far from the usual, it’s recommended that you take this to the doctor right away. If in case you are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD), your doctor will prescribe the appropriate medication to treat your infection.
Every woman has a body that’s different from another’s and comes with her own unique height, eye color, shoe size, etc. Menstrual cycles are no different. What may seems normal for one woman could send another into a panic attack. A heavy period does not always mean there is a health problem. Then again, it could also be your body’s way of trying to show you something is wrong. It is, therefore, best that you consult a doctor so he can help you confirm if your heavy period is a potential sign of an underlying health complication. The sooner you do this, the faster your doctor can get down to solving your problem!