How many of you dread that time of the month because you bleed so much you can’t leave your house? Even with back up for your back up…you find yourself bleeding through your pants or having to run to the restroom every hour or two. Maybe you used to bleed four days and now you go a solid week or longer.
As it turns out, the average woman bleeds 25-80 ml of blood during her entire cycle. If you assume a fully saturated tampon holds about 5 ml of blood, you might go through five to 16 tampons every month. More than that, specifically if you’re changing your pad or tampon every 30-60 minutes or bleeding longer than seven days, and you might have a problem.
The following are five reasons why you might be experiencing a heavier-than-normal period:
1. Something anatomical – fibroids and polyps that can grow in the uterus are very vascular and therefore bleed really easily. Also, endometriosis and adenomyosis also causes heavy bleeding. Have your health care provider send you for a pelvic ultrasound to see if there is something up inside causing you to bleed so much.
2. Thyroid problems – have your provider check not only your TSH, but also your T4 and T3 hormones because a low level causes heavy periods.
3. Low iron – check your CBC (complete blood count), iron and ferritin levels (iron storage) because even borderline low levels can cause heavy bleeding.
4. Check your hormones – too high estrogen or too low progesterone can cause heavy periods. I often see this in peri-menopausal women or women who do not ovulate regularly because their progesterone is very low. Elevated estrogen levels can also increase the amount of clots.
5. Bleeding disorders – you might have a blood clotting disorder and not even know it. Talk with your health care provider about this possibility and get the appropriate work-up.
A few other reasons women tend to forget about are: stress, antibiotic use, and flying. These reasons can also cause you to completely miss your period or be knocked off schedule. If you normally have easy periods and suddenly experience a gusher, think back over the month if you have traveled recently, been under a greater amount of stress or taken antibiotics for any reason.
It’s important to note that a menopausal woman who hasn’t had a period in 12 months should immediately call her doctor if she begins bleeding again. While it could be something as simple as a polyp, it could also be the start of endometrial cancer and this is serious. This will require a pelvic ultrasound first, and an endometrial biopsy to exam some of the tissue on the uterine wall.
In the end, it’s always important to check in with your health care provider because you may be suffering needlessly.