Sanitary pad leaks, stains and avoiding light coloured clothing are synonymous with periods. All of us have experienced this at least once in our lifetime. Although having excessive menstrual flow in the first few days is expected and normal, some women have to deal with heavy bleeding throughout their cycle. Since the period duration, cramps, body aches and menstrual flow are different for different women, it is often difficult to identify the condition of heavy periods.
Losing more than 80ml during a cycle counts as heavy flow. In simple words, if you have to provide double protection to contain your flow, or need to change your pad in the middle of the night, then the matter needs investigation. Having the period last for over a week, noticing bigger clots being discharged are also reasons to see a doctor. This condition where the woman experiences heavy bleeding is known as Menorrhagia.
Causes Of Heavy Periods (Menorrhagia)
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Birth control measures like IUD (intrauterine device)
- Blood-thinning medication
- Inflammation in any of the pelvic organs
- Infection in any of the pelvic organs
- Endometriosis (growth of pelvic tissues outside the pelvic region)
- Endometrial cancer
- Dysfunctional kidneys or liver
- Blood-related diseases
Home Remedies That Help With Menorrhagia
1. Changes In Diet
Iron deficiency on account of anaemia is a major concerning factor for women suffering from heavy periods. When it comes to answering the crucial question of how to deal with heavy periods, doctors recommend certain specific diet changes.
Eating iron-rich foods like spinach (palak), chicken, lentils (dals), broccoli and fish help in increasing the iron content in the body, improving the haemoglobin levels in the body. Alternatively, cooking food in cast iron utensils is also recommended as the food absorbs iron from the pot while it cooks.
Foods that are rich in vitamin C are also good for women suffering from excessive bleeding. Eating tomatoes, strawberries, oranges and kiwis help the body to absorb iron better.
Women suffering from menorrhagia should include apple cider vinegar in their diet. Drinking apple cider vinegar mixed with water helps to get rid of the toxins in the body. This helps with hormonal imbalances and can also assist in soothing period cramps.
2. Health Supplements
Consumption of supplements that have sufficient amounts of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, selenium, calcium and blackstrap molasses is prescribed to women with menorrhagia as the supplements help in replenishing the nutrients lost on account of the excessive and extended bleeding.
3. Over The Counter Medication
The cramps that accompany heavy periods often make it difficult for women to go continue with their everyday routine. In such situations, pain management drugs like Aspirin or Advil can be used to relieve pain. It must be noted that while these drugs help in reducing the period-related pain, they do not help with the excessive bleeding.
4. Prescription Medication
Heavy periods with blood clots are often the result of hormonal imbalances. In order to treat menorrhagia, doctors might prescribe birth control medication which aims to regulate the menstrual cycle. Such medicines are usually taken for 21 days of the month, barring the 7 days reserved for menstruation. Other prescription drugs that are used to treat heavy bleeding during period are antifibrinolytic tablets (for breaking down blood clots), gonadotropin-releasing hormone drug (for fibroid or endometriosis-related bleeding) or tablets containing specific hormones to create a balance.
Although these medicines have proven effective in bringing about hormonal balance and assisting with menorrhagia, they do have certain side effects like weight gain, mood swings, bloating and breast tenderness to name a few.
Did you know that your blood is made of 92% water? Hence, excessive bleeding can cause dehydration and fatigue. Upping your water intake during your period is an assured way of reducing blood thickness. Drinking ample amounts of water can also help with cramps.
6. Ayurvedic Concoctions
Wondering how to deal with heavy periods? The science of Ayurveda has a series of combinations which have been proven to relieve the excessive bleeding and discomfort associated with menorrhagia. As per ayurvedic principles, excessive bleeding during menstruation is caused due to fluctuations in the rakta dhatu (blood tissues) and pitta (bile). The combinations that help in balancing the pitta dosha are saffron (kesar) with honey and cinnamon with coriander seeds. Consumption of black raisins is also believed to be an effective heavy menstrual bleeding treatment.
7. Heating Pad
Usage of a heating pad is recommended to help with cramping and period pains. The heat helps in relieving the tension in the muscles and provides a sense of comfort without having to pop any pills.
8. Using A Menstrual Cup
While menstrual cups don’t help with reducing the bleeding, cramps or the pain, they can be very beneficial for women suffering from menorrhagia. The menstrual cup is a menstrual blood collection device that is designed to fit inside the vagina. The cup is an eco friendly, easy, economic and effective alternative to sanitary pads. The cup can hold more menstrual blood as compared to a pad. Hence, it not only saves you from multiple pad changes but also reduces the chances of a leak or stain.
Menorrhagia causes the woman to lose a considerable amount of blood. This is bound to make one feel uncomfortable and tired. It is advised that while they are experiencing heavy bleeding during a period, women should take rest as soon as they begin to feel exhausted in order to prevent fatigue. It is best to put off physically daunting tasks to a time before or after your period.
10. Light Exercise
Most women skip exercising while on their period. However, experts suggest that light exercise can go a long way in helping one cope with heavy bleeding during period. Exercise increases and enhances the blood circulation within the pelvic region. This helps in reducing cramping and pain. In addition to this, exercise improves the mental state of the woman, making her better equipped to deal with this difficult period. Try low-intensity exercises like yoga or walking to improve your physical and mental condition during such times.
As far as periods are concerned, most women think nothing of it when they experience the discomfort of excessive bleeding. This is the primary reason why Menorrhagia remains undiagnosed in the majority of cases. Doctors recommend that women should seek medical help if they experience any of the symptoms of heavy periods with blood clots. If the problem is diagnosed early, there is a better chance of treating Menorrhagia with minimal medication. On the other hand, when left untreated. The condition often leads to more serious health problems.
When To See A Doctor?
- If you experience vaginal bleeding after menopause
- If you have to change your pad every one-hour multiple times
- If you experience bleeding between two menstrual cycles
- If you have been on your period for over a week
Before You Go To See Your Doctor
1. Track Your Period Dates
The best way to ascertain if you are having longer periods as an exception or for an extended period of time is to use an app that tracks your menstrual cycle. There are innumerable apps to choose from, all of them providing unique features in addition to telling you when to expect your next period.
This app is extremely simple, hassle-free and user friendly. It helps women track their menstrual dates, length of the period, symptoms and weight gain. This all in one app makes it easy to keep track of all your period-related details so your doctor can have a clear understanding of the extent of your condition.
Along with the other necessary trackers like period dates, length of period, symptoms and dates of sexual activity, Clue also allows you to enter details relating to your mood swings and cervical fluid. This description of cervical fluid gives the physician a better insight into your menstrual health.
The app provides you with a list of menstrual moods and symptoms to choose from, saving you the time and effort of listing everything down manually. Along with this, the data from this app syncs with your phone calendar so you don’t have to keep going back to the app in order to check your period dates. This password-protected app is discreet, functional and convenient.
2. List Down Your Symptoms
Taking note of the period related symptoms makes one prepared for the questions asked by the doctor that are necessary to diagnose the condition. Doctors ask specific questions relating to various aspects of the patient’s menstrual cycle like the length of the cycle, date of last period, duration of last period, location of pain, the extent of pain, description of pain and details on the cervical fluid. The doctor might also enquire about the experiencing of other physical discomforts like vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation or nausea.
3. Make Notes Of Your Medical History And Medications
Heavy periods can be a consequence of either genetics or medication or both. Hence, it is important to inform the doctor if anyone in the family suffers from endometriosis, irregular periods or other major illnesses. Also, information about the menstrual history of the patient along with details on previous surgeries, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), allergies and medicines are taken help the doctor decide on the course of treatment that is safe and effective for a particular patient.
Several researchers over the years have established that menorrhagia has grave consequences on the everyday life of the woman. Doctors are also of the opinion that the diagnosis of the heavy menstrual bleeding causes and treatment of the condition is necessary in order to prevent more serious complications. Menorrhagia can lead to anaemia which causes a reduction in the red blood cells present in the body. This becomes the reason for low haemoglobin in the blood. The periodic cramps and pain also make it difficult to carry on with everyday life, leading to emotional, physical and social problems. Early diagnosis and treatment can help women avoid extreme measures like invasive surgery and procedures.