If your time of the month consists of constant trips to the bathroom, doubling up on period products, and spending time in the fetal position, you might suffer from heavy periods. They’re exhausting and can take a serious toll on your mental and physical health. Most of the time, there is an underlying cause for heavy periods, and there are definitely things you can do to manage symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at what it means to have a heavy period, how to stop heavy periods, what you can do to help relieve symptoms, and when to seek medical attention .
What exactly is a “heavy period”?
A heavy period, or menorrhagia, is characterized by excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding that disrupts daily life. Often, a heavy period involves bleeding for more than a week, passing large blood clots, changing sanitary products every hour, and a feeling of fatigue from iron depletion.
Why do I have heavy bleeding during my periods?
Occasional heavy menstrual bleeding may just be a part of your normal cycle. As the lining of your uterus sheds, it may simply release more material at the beginning of your period. Heavy bleeding days might require changing a pad or tampon more often or sleeping with extra protection, but these shouldn’t be too frequent. If you experience consistent heavy bleeding, there could be something else going on, and that warrants a conversation with your doctor.
Causes of heavy periods
Heavy periods are caused by a variety of factors. It can be frustrating to not know the root cause or how to stop heavy period bleeding without an official diagnosis, but here are some of the more common causes.
The most common cause for heavy bleeding is a change in your hormone levels. Hormones can shift due to a number of conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid problems, and irregular ovulation.
Menorrhagia can also be caused by a sudden change in lifestyle, such as rapid weight gain, the birth of a baby, changes in diet, or even an influx of stress.
Anytime you begin or stop taking medication, your menstrual cycles could be impacted. It’s common to see heavy periods as a result of changing birth control medications, steroids, blood thinners, or antidepressants and antipsychotics.
Other medical conditions
If none of the above apply to you, a heavy period could also be the result of other medical conditions affecting your body. Uterine fibroids (fibrous growths), polyps (excess clumps of uterine lining), and endometriosis (uterine lining growing outside the uterus) can impact flow, as can illnesses like cancer, kidney dysfunction, and insulin resistance.
How can I stop heavy periods?
If you’re wondering how to stop heavy periods, you’re not alone. In fact, about one out of every five women in the U.S. alone is affected by menorrhagia and reports symptoms to their doctor. There are a number of medications that can help stop heavy periods, such as hormonal birth control, intrauterine devices (IUD), tranexamic acid (Lysteda), which helps break down clots, and even a protein-releasing nasal spray.
In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to correct excessive bleeding. Some of these procedures use lasers to cauterize the lining of the uterus, which can interfere with fertility, and sometimes a total hysterectomy is recommended.
If you’re curious about how to stop heavy periods naturally, there are a few things you can try at home.
1. Eat foods high in Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a beneficial nutrient for iron absorption. When your diet is high in vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, and potatoes, you’re more likely to keep iron stores high. This can help alleviate menorrhagia symptoms.
2. Drink plenty of water
Staying well-hydrated will help with large blood volume loss. By drinking more water and electrolyte-rich beverages, you can combat fatigue and cramping during heavy periods.
3. Get a food-sensitivity test
Did you know that undiagnosed food allergies can contribute to an imbalance in hormone levels? Try eliminating certain foods from your diet after getting test results, and see if your heavy periods improve.
Tips to manage your heavy period flow
When heavy menstrual bleeding feels unmanageable, try to make life as pain-free as possible with reusable period products.
Try a menstrual cup
Heavy periods can become pretty costly when you’re burning through pads and tampons around the clock. These days, menstrual cups come in all shapes and sizes, giving you plenty of options to explore.
Stock up on reusable period panties
There’s nothing worse than bleeding through your tampon or menstrual cup and ruining a favorite pair of underwear (or an outfit!). Proof reusable period panties are life savers for heavy periods—in fact, our Leakproof Hipster can hold up to 10 teaspoons of liquid. Manage your heavy flow with worry-free coverage that you can count on.
Use heating pads and patches
While heating pads won’t lighten your flow, they can definitely help with the pain. Cozy up with your heating pad on difficult days and get some rest.
When to see a doctor
If you’ve been experiencing heavy periods consistently, you should definitely talk to your doctor about possible underlying conditions that could be contributing to your symptoms. It’s also important to seek medical care if you have any of the following symptoms during your heavy period:
- Your periods last longer than a week
- You feel symptoms of anemia (fatigue, breathlessness, faint)
- You pass blood clots larger than an inch in diameter
- You’re consistently bleeding through more than one pad or tampon per hour
Heavy periods can be a huge hassle—especially when you don’t know what’s causing them. If you’re bleeding excessively, the first step to knowing how to stop heavy period bleeding is finding out the root cause, so be sure to consult with your doctor. From there, you can begin treatment and find ways to manage your symptoms.