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I have heavy periods

I have heavy periods

Are your periods too heavy or last too long?

While having your period, do you feel constantly tired and find it hard to concentrate during classes or at work? Do you feel so exhausted that you avoid going out? Do you experience painful cramps during your period? Are you short of breath after light exercise? Are you afraid to wear white clothing in the summer because of your bleeding?

If you answer any of these questions with “yes”, there is a chance you may experience heavy menstrual bleeding. Heavy menstrual bleeding, or menorrhagia, is rather common and can significantly affect your daily life and physical or mental health. About 1 in 4 women and girls experience symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding throughout their lives. Although heavy menstrual bleeding is frequent, it is often overlooked. This means that many women and girls suffer unnecessarily because heavy menstrual bleeding is treatable.1-3

I have heavy periods

Causes of heavy periods

There are a variety of potential causes for heavy menstrual bleeding. Knowing the exact cause is important to choose the right treatment.3 About 1 in 5 women with heavy menstrual bleeding have an underlying bleeding disorder. The most common bleeding disorder is von Willebrand disease (VWD). Almost all women with VWD have heavy menstrual bleeding. Unfortunately, VWD is too often overlooked as a cause of heavy menstrual bleeding. In addition, some treatments that control heavy menstrual bleeding will not protect women with VWD from other complications of the disease. Without diagnosis, these women remain at risk of excessive bleeding during pregnancy as well as during and after childbirth. VWD is treatable, so if the diagnosis is known before pregnancy, bleeding can be controlled and women with VWD can have normal pregnancies.2,4

You may not be the only one in your family with heavy periods

If you are unsure about your periods, you may have discussed them with other women in your family. Your mother, an aunt or a sister may experience similar bleeding and tell you that your periods are normal. However, this is not always true. Among other causes, heavy menstrual bleeding can be due to hereditary bleeding disorders.2,3 These disorders can affect several members of a family. If your periods affect your daily life and well-being, we recommend that you speak to your doctor about your bleeding.

Find out if your bleeding is normal

How much bleeding is too much? This question is sometimes difficult to answer. Typical signs of heavy menstrual bleeding include bleeding for more than a week, needing to change your pad or tampon every few hours, bleeding through to your clothes or bedding, and passing large blood clots.5 To help you learn more about your menstrual bleeding, scientists have developed a simple simple period scoring card. In this card you can note how many sanitary products you use every day. This information will help you and your doctor find out it if you have heavy menstrual bleeding.6

Sometimes women and girls with heavy menstrual bleeding also bleed frequently from the nose or from their gums. Losing blood can lead to iron deficiency and anaemia, and make you feel tired and exhausted. If you have experienced any of these symptoms or bled after a tooth extraction or another minor surgical procedure, we recommend that you take our bleeding test. Researchers have developed this test to help you find out if your bleeding is normal or not.2 It only takes a few minutes to complete, and it will tell you if you should see a doctor because of your bleeding. This may be even more important if you are about to undergo surgery.

  1. Fraser IS et al. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2015; 128:196-200.
  2. Higham JM et al. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1990; 97:734-9.