I think we can all agree it’s important to know your body. Everyone’s body is different and some of us will have heavier flow while some of us just experience a light menstruation.
First of all, don’t be alarmed. If you’re a heavy flow-er like myself, you have what’s called Menorrhagia. All this means is that your flow is very heavy and you bleed for longer period of time. It’s not abnormal. In fact, I don’t know why they have to use a medical term for it aside from just calling it heavy flow.
All that said, dealing with heavy flow (Menorrhagia) can be a challenge. In this post I’m going to give you some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. Hopefully these little hacks will help you deal with heavy flow a little bit easier.
Let's Define Heavy Flow: What Constitutes Menorrhagia
Generally speaking, if you lose more than 60ml of fluid, you have a heavy period. 60ml is enough to soak up about 12 tampons (tampons hold roughly 5ml of fluid) or almost 3 regular sized DaisyCups. Since I’m a heavy bleeder, I can’t tell you how much time and money I’ve saved using a DaisyCup. But I digress…
Simple ways to tell if you have Menorrhagia:
Like I said before, everyone is different. If the below items are true for you, then you most likely have a very heavy flow:
- Need to change pads or tampons every 1-2 hours for at least 1 day during menstruation.
- You experience frequent flooding or leaking even though you’re using a tampon/pad.
- You need to use both tampons and pads at the same time to manage your flow.
- You pass large clots.
- You find yourself cancelling activities due to your flow being too much.
- You experience feeling weak or anemic.
What actually causes a heavy period?
Aside from just being your natural menstruation pattern, heavy flow can be caused by a number of medical issues. I wouldn’t say any of these are particularly dangerous, but it’s definitely worth figuring out if any of these conditions apply to you.
Mayo Clinic is a great resource for information related to menstruation. They have a good post about heavy periods and causes/symptoms that might be worth a read.
There are also some very natural causes for heavy periods, which are nothing to be concerned about:
- During puberty, your first periods are generally going to be heavier. This is normal.
- If you recently stopped taking birth control pills, you might have a heavier than normal period.
- If you’ve just given birth and are getting back into a regular cycle, your periods tend to be much heavier than normal.
- Other causes of heavy menstrual bleeding: newly placed IUD, a condition such as endometriosis, dysfunction of the ovaries, fibroids, or even by a medication you are taking.
According to Mayo Clinic, a very heavy period can be a symptom of the following:
Inherited bleeding disorders. Some bleeding disorders — such as von Willebrand’s disease, a condition in which an important blood-clotting factor is deficient – might cause abnormal menstrual bleeding.
Adenomyosis. This condition occurs when glands from the endometrium become embedded in the uterine muscle, often causing heavy bleeding and painful periods.
Hormone imbalance. In a normal menstrual cycle, a balance between the hormones estrogen and progesterone regulates the buildup of the lining of the uterus (endometrium), which is shed during menstruation. If a hormone imbalance occurs, the endometrium develops in excess and eventually sheds by way of heavy menstrual bleeding.
Other medical conditions. A number of other medical conditions, including liver or kidney disease, may be associated with menorrhagia.
Source: Mayo Clinic
What is the best way to deal with a heavy period?
Most of us that have heavy periods do not require medical treatment – it’s just the way our bodies operate. There are some ways to make those heavy days much more manageable which I will list below.
In my opinion (although admittedly biased), I believe that menstrual cups like DaisyCup are the best solution for dealing with heavier flow. Not only do they allow you to wait much longer before swapping out a tampon or pad, they will literally save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in femine hygiene products.
DaisyCup can also help you track your flow by measuring the amount. This can help you keep track of what a “normal” period is for you and help you understand your body just a little bit better.
Why I think menstrual cups are the solution to heavy flow:
- A menstrual cup holds 3x-4x as much fluid as a tampon.
- Because a cup can hold much more than a tampon, you won’t spend near as much time in the bathroom or have to worry whether or not a bathroom is nearby.
- Menstrual cups like DaisyCup are a healthier solution. When inserted correctly, you won’t even know it’s there (just don’t forget it’s there!).
- Because cups are reuseable, you won’t ever need to make any late-night runs to the drug store or even have period products on hand. One period product to rule them all! (haha. ok… I’m secret LOTR nerd)
- Cups are discreet, easy to insert and remove, and don’t have a string hanging out.
Funny story… Years ago, I had a live-in boyfriend who used to comment on my tampon string when we would be getting ready for work. He would say: “If I pull that string, will confetti shoot out of your mouth.” He was implying that I resembled one of those party poppers! Now that I have my DaisyCup, I don’t have to worry about dumb jokes!
Other ways you can lighten up your flow: Watch What You Eat
What you eat has a huge influence on your menstruation. Drinking a lot of water and avoiding processed foods that are high in fat and sugar can actually lighten things up a bit.
Iron-rich foods like bananas, raisins, and salmon are great choices to lighten the flow. If you’re experiencing anemia-like symptoms or headaches, an iron supplement might help. Aside from iron supplements, taking a women’s multivitamin every day can also be good for menstruation.
Birth Control Might be a Solution
If your periods are debilitating to the point where you are missing out on work or school, then you might want to consider a hormonal birth control.
Before you decide to go this route it’s important that you research the effects and side effects of hormonal birth control. The birth control can definitely lighten your period, but it might not be the best solution at your stage in life. You have to think hard and weigh your options.
Anti-inflammatory Medications Can Lighten Period Flow
Taking anti-inflammatory medications has long been known to relieve menstrual cramps. Numerous studies have shown that over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs can also help to reduce heavy menstrual flow.
These medications can sometimes reduce your prostaglandin levels. Prostaglandins increases blood flow in general, which can contribute to heavier periods. You should always consult with your doctor before beginning any sort of over the counter medication regimine.
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Heavy, light, or in between, we’re all different and what’s average for me might not be average for you. Heavy flow is nothing to be ashamed of but it also shouldn’t stop you from enjoying life during menstruation.
If you have any tips, tricks, or hacks, let us know in the comments. Sharing your tips here might help another person with heavy flow.
About the Author: Suzan Brittan
Suzan is a published author, creative and non-fiction writer for various forms of media, TV and film. She also specializes in branding integration for TV and film scripts for major production companies.