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How To Deal With Heavy Periods: Manage Symptoms & Find Relief

There’s menstruation and then there’s menorrhagia, the medical term which is often defined as a very heavy period lasting longer than 7 days. If this is you, discover how to manage this time of the month and get through the day with confidence.

We understand that heavy periods can disrupt your daily routine and affect your self-confidence. That’s why we’re here to provide expert tips on managing your period at any time of day, whether you’re at work or ready for bed. Discover the reasons behind menorrhagia and some of the best treatment options available. 

What is considered a heavy period?

In order to manage any periods, it helps to truly understand your flow. 

A very heavy, or extremely heavy period (menorrhagia) is typically defined as menstrual bleeding that:

  • Is experienced for 7 days or longer.
  • Requires changing/emptying your period products every 1-2 hours and more often than recommended.
  • Having to use more than one product to help manage your flow (for example a tampon and a pad as back-up.)
  • Involves passing blood clots larger than a 10p coin.
  • Leave you feeling tired and lacking in energy.
  • Shortness of breath.

Even though heavy periods are not always a sign something is wrong, if you are already using products for a very heavy flow and constantly find yourself needing to change your period products more frequently than you would like, we advise consulting your healthcare provider.

You can learn how to manage very heavy periods by wrapping your head around the causes and medical treatments available. There are so many menstruators who don’t even know that they experience heavy bleeding, irregular bleeding or perhaps more serious conditions like endometriosis, fibroids and PCOS.

How to deal with heavy periods and find relief naturally

Finding relief from heavy periods is crucial for maintaining your comfort and overall well-being. Remember, finding what works best for you may involve some trial and error. Stay attuned to your body's needs and don't hesitate to reach out for professional support when needed. Your doctor, gynaecologist, or women’s health specialist will be able to identify and diagnose why you are experiencing Menorrhagia and how best to treat it.

With that being said, here is a list of tips on how to ease heavy periods naturally. 

Use period products designed for heavy flow

There are tampons, pads and menstrual cups specially designed to handle an extremely, or very heavy flow. They provide extra absorbency and protection, giving you peace of mind while minimising the risk of leaks and discomfort. However, you need to pay attention to your flow and make sure you change/empty your period products at least every 4 - 8 hours.

Get plenty of rest

Your body may need some extra rest during menstruation, especially when dealing with extremely heavy periods. Allow yourself to prioritise relaxation by getting enough sleep and listening to your body's signals for restorative breaks throughout the day. Even a 15-minute tea break in the garden is perfect for coping with this time of the month. .

Maintain a balanced diet

Consuming a balanced diet rich in iron, vitamins, and minerals is essential for supporting your body during menstruation. Include foods like leafy greens, lean proteins, whole grains, and fruits to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally and manage heavy periods more effectively.

Track your period

Tracking your period can be a powerful tool for managing heavy periods. By keeping a record of your menstrual cycle and noting any patterns or changes in flow, you can better anticipate and prepare for heavier days, allowing you to take proactive measures.

Engage in light exercise

Gentle exercise, such as going for a walk or practising yoga, can be beneficial during your period. It helps improve blood circulation, releases endorphins that elevate your mood, and may even help alleviate menstrual symptoms. Listen to your body and choose activities that feel comfortable and soothing.

Rest a heating pad on your stomach

Applying a heating pad or hot water bottle to your lower abdomen can help soothe cramps. This provides relief from the pain that typically comes with a heavy menstrual flow. The warmth helps to relax the muscles and alleviate discomfort, allowing you to go about your day more comfortably.

Take a warm bath

Soaking in a warm bath can work wonders for easing muscle tension and providing relaxation during heavy periods. The warm water helps to soothe cramps  and create a calming effect on both your body and mind.

Go for a full-body massage

Treating yourself to a full-body massage can provide deep relaxation and alleviate the muscle tension associated with heavy periods. The gentle pressure and kneading techniques promote blood flow and release endorphins, helping to ease pain and promote a sense of well-being.

How to deal with heavy periods at work

Managing heavy periods at work can indeed feel challenging, but implementing a few simple strategies can make a significant difference in finding relief and maintaining productivity. In a study published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), around *one in seven participants said they had taken time off from work or school during their period. This shows exactly how debilitating periods at work can be, especially when you have a heavy flow or period pain.

Here are some tips on how to manage heavy periods at work:

  • Ensure you have an adequate supply of period products designed for heavy flow.
  • If possible, make your day less stressful by scheduling fewer meetings and work tasks.
  • Consider using a heating pad or portable heat wraps while seated at your desk to alleviate cramps. If you have a more active job, use the heating pad during your lunch break or when commuting. There’s no shame in using your heating pad when you need it.
  • Plan regular breaks to stretch, take deep breaths, and practice mindfulness techniques.
  • Stay hydrated, eat nutritious snacks and have a small stash of painkillers on hand. 

Learning how to manage heavy periods at work comes down to experimenting with different methods and figuring out what works best for you. We encourage open conversations about periods at work with your co-workers and management. Create a safe space. 

How to deal with heavy periods at night

When it comes to managing heavy periods at night, it can be a daunting task. But there are ways to find comfort and relief, ensuring a restful sleep. Bid farewell to those nighttime period surprises and say hello to peaceful slumber.

Here are some tips on how to calm heavy periods at night:

  • Consider using overnight pads which often come with a wider back for extra protection or Ultra Tamons designed specifically for extremely heavy flow and leak protection.
  • Add an extra layer of protection to your bed such as a bed pad or towel
  • Explore alternative period products to see if any of them work better for you when it comes to preventing leaks. Most people wear pads, tampons, menstrual cups or period underwear.
  • Establish a calming bedtime routine that includes activities like taking a warm bath or gentle stretching to promote peaceful sleep.

Discovering how to cope with a heavy flow at night might take some time. Try out different methods until you find the best solution. 

What causes heavy periods?

There are plenty of known causes behind heavy periods. We recommend paying attention to your body and trying to pinpoint what else you are feeling. Do you have unbearable cramps? Are you really tired? All this information will help with diagnosis.

Here are some common causes for heavy periods:

  • Hormonal imbalances: if your oestrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate, your period may become heavier and unpredictable
  • Uterine fibroids: these non-cancerous growths in your uterus can make your periods heavier.
  • Polyps: these small benign growths can sprout in the lining of the uterus, making your flow heavier..
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS can cause hormonal imbalances and make your periods heavier.
  • Thyroid disorders: your thyroid is responsible for your metabolism and can sometimes affect your hormones and period
  • Blood clotting disorders: blood clotting conditions like von Willebrand disease or platelet disorders can make your period flow heavier.
  • Perimenopause: at this time, estrogen levels are higher than your progesterone levels. This thickens the uterine lining and leads to heavier bleeding.
  • Endometriosis: a build-up of endometrial tissue can cause inflammation and heavier bleeding.
  • Medications and medical treatments: medications such as anticoagulants and hormonal IUDs (intrauterine devices) can sometimes cause heavier menstrual bleeding as a side effect.

Medical treatments for heavy periods

When it comes to heavy periods, there are plenty of treatment options available to help you regain control and find relief. Whether it's to help reduce your flow or alleviate associated symptoms, if you find that natural remedies simply aren’t cutting it for you, your doctor or gynaecologist may be able to offer you several medical options to try out. Typically, these medical treatments are only necessary if you have extensively tried at-home remedies and lifestyle changes.

Our final thoughts on managing heavy periods

Managing heavy periods doesn't have to feel like a never-ending challenge. By understanding the causes, exploring various strategies, and seeking appropriate treatments, you can regain control and find relief. Remember, you're not alone in this journey. Reach out to healthcare professionals, connect with support networks, and empower yourself with knowledge.

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Frequently asked questions

Does HRT help with heavy periods?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help regulate your cycle and reduce heavy menstrual bleeding. The therapy requires taking the oestrogen hormone every day and occasionally taking progesterone. You can only undergo this treatment with a prescription and under medical supervision.

Does a heavy period affect fertility?

A heavy menstrual period can potentially affect fertility. However, it’s typically the underlying cause of the heavy periods that directly affects fertility and your ability to have a healthy pregnancy. For example, PCOS can cause heavy bleeding and is known to affect fertility.

What are heavy periods a sign of?

Heavy periods are not always a sign something is wrong, and for many they are completely normal, but they can indicate several underlying health, such as, hormonal imbalances, PCOS, Endometriosis, Fibroids and so much more. So if you are in any doubt about why your periods are so heavy you should consult a healthcare professional for a more accurate diagnosis.

Does ibupuprofen help with heavy periods?

Ibuprofen can help with Menorrhagia by slowing down prostaglandin production. Less prostaglandin results in less uterine shedding, which means periods may be a little lighter.

What can help with heavy painful periods?

You can help heavy and painful periods with various lifestyle changes. Consider the following:

  • Getting more sleep
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • A balanced diet
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Using a heating pad
  • Gentle exercise while on your period
  • Pain medication as prescribed by a healthcare professional

Are heavy periods dangerous?

Heavy periods are not always dangerous, but they can be if you experience ongoing heavy bleeding for longer than 24 hours while on your period. See a gynaecologist or doctor if you have prolonged periods that prevent you from completing daily activities. A common health condition caused by heavy periods is anaemia, which can leave you feeling tired and weak due to a lack of iron.

Is a heavy period healthy?

A heavy period is not necessarily healthy if you experience constant heavy bleeding for more than 1 day while on your period or causes other health conditions. The significant blood loss could result in anaemia which is characterised by an iron deficiency and typically treated with iron supplements.

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