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10th August 2017

All About Heavy Periods

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 experience more bleeding than this.

So, when can a women call her periods heavy?  Any of the following symptoms would define a heavy period:

  • passing lots of clots
  • 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.

Heavy periods can be an indicator of underlying problems. If you’re tired and anaemic, visit your doctor who can arrange an ultrasound scan and blood tests to check haemoglobin, thyroid function tests and iron levels.  The 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.

If you think you are experiencing heavy periods, visit your GP or gynaecologist who will be able to investigate and provide any treatments to help.

For more information on heavy periods, click here to visit our heavy periods page.

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