What you should do about heavy periods
Periods. Those monthly menstruation moments that can have a mind - and schedule - of their own. If you’re like many women, you monitor your cycle and track or at least keep an eye out for any sort of abnormalities in your flow. How heavy or light it can be, as well as, how many days it lasts and if it’s on time or not. Typical periods aren’t always a given but oftentimes, knowing what to generally expect makes the monthly go-round a little easier to manage. If you’re noticing an increase in your flow or you regularly experience heavy periods, we want to share why it’s best not to ignore these and to look a little further into the potential causes and well as options for relief. Just to err on the side of caution and frankly, comfort.
Here at Apele, we hear about heavy flows often. In fact, one of the main incentives behind our period-resistant underwear is the confidence one can have knowing that our panties absorb period blood! Whether it’s that first gush of an unexpected heavy flow or excess blood that leaks past the menstrual cup or tampon. If you’re like the average woman, you’ll have between 400 and 500 periods in your lifetime.
If you’re suffering from heavier flows, that is a significant amount of time to commit to managing, maintaining and mitigating leaks and discomfort. Fortunately, Linda Bradley, MD, Director of The Fibroid and Menstrual Disorders Center at Cleveland Clinic gives plenty of insight on how women can handle heavier flows with tools and techniques.
Trust your gut.
It’s normal to see a change in periods every now and again. Sometimes, stress, diet and other lifestyle changes can prompt a period that is a little early or late compared to your usual dates.
Not only those reasons, but other life events like menopause, breastfeeding and birth can also cause fluctuations in your periods. Nonetheless, this is your body’s way of telling you what’s happening physiologically. “Women should track their periods and know what’s normal for them,” says Dr. Bradley. Medications can also impact on your usual cycle,but that doesn’t prompt an obligatory surrender to heavy periods, she suggests.
A heavier flow one month is often not a cause for concern. However, if you’re experiencing a significant increase over several months of continue to experience untimely periods that aren’t typical, you should schedule with your provider to check for any underlying causes and potential remedies. Conditions that may cause heavier bleeding include:
And these all may need urgent attention. Have a thorough evaluation to find out what’s going on, which includes tests that will help you identify any concerns. She goes on to say, “For example, a biopsy or regular ultrasound isn’t always enough. A specialized transvaginal ultrasound, also called saline infusion sonography, is often essential for a complete exam.
It’s important for doctors to consider the whole woman.”
A hysterectomy doesn’t have to be the only solution.
In Dr. Bradley’s practice, she has heard that some women avoid getting help with heavy periods because they’re worried a hysterectomy is their only option. And the statistics may make that concern seem very real. “One in three women has had a hysterectomy, but only 10% are due to cancer,” she says.
The good news? Not every woman who has a heavy period has an underlying problem and, even when there are medical issues, doctors can treat many of them with minor surgery or medications.
“If fibroids are located in the uterine cavity (submucosal fibroids), we can easily treat them with a brief outpatient procedure called operative hysteroscopy,” she says.
Consider birth control for help with heavier flows.
When otherwise healthy, women can opt for contraceptives to help them lighten and even deter their monthly cycles from happening. There are safe, non-hormonal, FDA-approved medications available if you talk with your doctor and find you are a good candidate for trying such.
Your vagina. Your choice.
From Dr. Bradley’s perspective, it’s all about choice. If you are a healthy woman and don’t mind managing heavier cycles, then choosing to live with them is just fine. All the same, if you seek help with such, there’s no shame. What matters most is that women have a general idea of what their monthly periods look like and understand how to get help if they have questions about their cycles, especially heavier flows than normal for them.