Heavy Periods: How Much is Too Much?
Do you suffer from heavy periods? You shouldn’t have to.
For many women ‘that time of the month’ can resemble a pretty gruesome crime scene. Heavy bleeding that just rushes out of you like a red river, never venturing too far from the toilet and only wearing black becomes a reality for many women at period time. I even had a client who said she would sleep on old towels because her periods were that heavy!
Heavy periods are not only annoying but they can be extremely embarrassing. Referred to medically as menorrhagia, the term includes menstrual periods that are abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding. Heavy periods affect women of all ages but are common during the teenage years and peri menopause. And if you suffer from heavy periods now is the time to get help because it doesn’t have to be that way.
What is Normal?
The normal duration of a period should be between 4-6 days in length and on average lose about 30mL of blood, which is about 2 tablespoons. Blood loss exceeding 80mL is considered abnormal and requires investigations. Ok so that’s great but you’re thinking how on earth do I measure my menstrual blood loss - essentially it should equate to fewer than 16 full tampons.
Having to change your tampon/pad more than every 4 hours can also be a sign of heavy menstrual bleeding. Passing clots is common but not normal. It is not normal to lose more than 80mL of menstrual blood or have periods longer than 7 days!! Keep reading to find out how to fix it.
How to treat heavy periods…
Clear excess oestrogens – Oestrogen levels within the body determine the thickness of the endometrium and therefore determines how much blood will be lost when you have your period. As a result, excess oestrogen will cause heavy periods (see 9 signs your struggling with excess oestrogen and how to fix it).
Turmeric – the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric have shown to reduce menstrual blood loss by up to 40% in women with excess bleeding. I recommend taking a standardised extract that contains 50-200mg of curcumin daily and then increasing the dose at menstruation if you also suffer pain with your heavy bleeding.
Avoid cow’s milk – will reduce inflammation and lighten the period. It is important that you avoid all cow’s milk products including milk, cheese, ice cream, yoghurt etc. Instead opt for goat’s or sheep’s milk products and coconut yoghurt.
Thyroid – Recent research has shown that hypothyroidism is linked to heavy periods and treatment with thyroid hormones has shown to decrease menstrual blood loss. When getting your thyroid function tested it is important that you get thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free T4 and free T3 tested. Most doctors just test TSH which only shows us a fraction of the picture.
Anaemia – Not only is low iron a causative factor of heavy periods but heavy periods can cause low iron. If you are suffering from heavy periods it is important that you have your iron levels tested. Especially if you are feeling tired and short of breath. If iron levels are low use a chelated iron supplement (like an amino acid chelate) take it after dinner and avoid taking it at the same time as other mineral supplements. Note: Never take an iron supplement without first having a blood test to test to confirm your levels.
When rebalancing hormones naturally it can take up to 3 months to see the full benefits from the treatment plan. So allow yourself 3 months and if nothing has improved speak to your naturopath or doctor for further testing.
What is your experience with heavy periods? What has helped you?
Image via @urbclothing