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

There’s menstruation and then there’s menorrhagia, which is defined by heavy periods every month. Discover how to help heavy periods and get through the day with confidence!

We understand that heavy periods can disrupt your daily routine and affect your confidence. That’s why we’re here to provide expert tips on managing heavy periods at any time of day, whether you’re at work or ready for bed. Discover the common causes behind heavy periods and the best treatment options. Learning how to deal with heavy periods is totally worth it, especially if you experience this every cycle. Get ready to embrace your heavy period with confidence!

What is considered a heavy period?

In order to manage heavy periods, it helps to truly understand if your flow is considered heavy. A heavy period (menorrhagia) is typically defined as menstrual bleeding that requires changing/emptying your period products every hour or two for several consecutive hours. In some cases, the flow is so heavy that two products are used at the same time eg. a tampon and a pad.

Heavy periods may also involve passing large blood clots and excessive bleeding that lasts longer than seven days. If you constantly find yourself needing to change pads or tampons and it significantly impacts your daily life, we advise consulting your healthcare provider.

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

How to deal with heavy periods and find relief

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. A gynaecologist or women’s health specialist will know exactly what helps with heavy periods and can diagnose your situation.

With that being said, here are some home remedies for heavy period bleeding.

Use period products designed for heavy flow

There are tampons, pads and menstrual cups specially designed to handle a 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 heavy periods.

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.

Stay hydrated throughout the day

Drinking plenty of water is essential during your period. It can help ease bloating, support healthy digestion, and promote better circulation, all of which can contribute to managing heavy periods more comfortably.

Track your period

Tracking your period can be a powerful tool in 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, reduce bloating, 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 South Africa, *7 million menstruators miss school, university, or work due to period poverty. This shows exactly how debilitating periods at work or school can be, especially when you have a heavy flow or period pain.

Here are some tips on how to control 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 or super-absorbent tampons designed specifically for heavy flow and leak protection.
  • Add an extra layer of protection to your bed such as a mattress protector 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 heavy periods at night might take some time. Try out different methods until you find the best solution.

What causes heavy periods?

There are plenty of explanations for what causes a heavy flow during periods. We recommend paying attention to your body and trying to pinpoint what else you are feeling when the heavy periods start. 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 pesky non-cancerous growths in your uterus can crash the monthly party, making your periods heavier.
  • Polyps: these tiny troublemakers can sprout in the lining of the uterus, making your flow feel like a raging river.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS loves to play the hormonal havoc game, causing menstrual cycles to become heavier.
  • Thyroid disorders: your thyroid, the master of metabolism, 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.
  • 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 reducing the flow or alleviating associated symptoms, we have put together some common treatments to consider. Typically, these medical treatments are only necessary if you have extensively tried at-home remedies and lifestyle changes.

  • Here are some medical treatments for serious cases of heavy menstruation:
    Hormonal birth control: combined oral contraceptives, hormonal patches, or intrauterine devices (IUDs).
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen.
  • Tranexamic acid: this medication prevents the breakdown of blood clots to slow down the bleeding.
  • Progestin therapy: a synthetic form of progesterone administered to regulate the menstrual cycle.
  • Endometrial ablation: a minimally invasive procedure that destroys the uterus lining for long-term relief
  • Hysterectomy: in severe cases where other treatments have been ineffective or are not suitable, a hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the uterus, may be considered.

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.

*https://www.wits.ac.za/news/latest-news/general-news/2022/2022-11/its-about-bloody-time-we-end-period-poverty-.html( Accessed: 19 June 2023).


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Frequently asked questions

What makes heavy periods happen?

Heavy periods happen due to various factors. Common causes include hormonal imbalances, uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, polyps, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disorders and blood clotting disorders. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional to identify the underlying cause and determine appropriate treatment options.

Does HRT help with heavy periods?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help regulate your cycle and reduce heavy menstrual bleeding. The therapy entails taking the oestrogen hormone every day and occasionally taking progesterone. You can only undergo this therapy 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.

How does ibuprofen help with heavy periods?

Ibuprofen helps with heavy periods by slowing down prostaglandin production. Less prostaglandin results in less uterine shedding, which means periods will be lighter. 

What can help with heavy painful periods?

You can help heavy and painful periods with various lifestyle changes. Consider getting more sleep, drinking plenty of water and gentle exercise while on your period. These activities can help maintain your quality of life while menstruating.

Are heavy periods dangerous?

Heavy periods are not always dangerous, but they can be if you experience them for longer than 24 to 48 hours. 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 it lasts for too long (more than 24 to 48 hours) 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.

Are heavy periods bad?

Heavy periods are not inherently bad, but they can be a sign of an underlying condition or hormonal imbalance. It’s important to assess your overall health and consult with a healthcare professional to determine how to stop heavy periods.

What are heavy periods a sign of?

Heavy periods can be a sign of underlying health conditions such as stress, hormonal imbalances, PCOS, bleeding disorders and thyroid disorders. However, you should consult a healthcare professional for a more accurate diagnosis. They will know how to stop heavy menstruation safely.

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