Menorrhagia: What counts as heavy period? What is too much?
Some women experience heavy blood loss from their very first period, while other women are only confronted with this problem during the menopause. The question is: what constitutes heavy periods? That is difficult to define, because let’s be honest: periods are hardly fun as it is. But when they become all-encompassing, it is a completely different story. Your periods should not hamper your daily life. If it does, then fortunately – hooray! – there are options for treatment!
A normal menstrual cycle
Periods starts during puberty and stop after the menopause It is not the most pleasant time of the month, but it is a way for your body to let you know your ‘system’ is functioning correctly. The cycle is driven by hormones, of which oestrogen and progesterone are the most important. A balance of both hormones ensures the formation and shedding (through your period) of your endometrium (womb lining) every month. A normal menstrual cycle? There is no such thing. You see, it is different for everyone. On average, a menstrual cycle is 28 days long and menstruation itself about three to five days. Changing a tampon or sanitary pad every four hours is considered normal. But actually, the rule is: if your cycle is having too much of an impact of your daily life, it is time for action.
Heavy periods or menorrhagia
Heavy periods (menorrhagia) is one of the most common gynaecological complaints. But what exactly is it? As said before: it is difficult to provide a definition of what constitutes heavy periods, because after all, symptoms are always subjective. If you yourself regard your symptoms as severe, then they are severe. Naturally, there are a few key symptoms. In general, you have heavy periods if:
- Your cycle is shorter than 21 days
- You bleed for longer than seven days
- You have to replace your tampon or sanitary pad more frequently than every four hours
- You need a tampon as well as a sanitary pad to prevent leakage
- You experience pain that hampers your daily life
- You feel physically unwell (listless, lightheaded, etc.), or you suffer from PMS symptoms.
If in doubt, contact your GP!
Ultimately, it is up to you to determine whether you are really losing too much blood. Does menstruation bring your life to a standstill because it puts you out of action temporarily? Then be sure to see your GP to discuss the options. There are certainly enough of them. In any case, it is advisable to use our period diary to keep track of your symptoms. Bring it to your appointment with your GP.