Heavy periods happen over several consecutive periods. The medical term for this is menorrhagia. It can occur by itself or with menstrual pain, such as dysmenorrhoea. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong, but it can affect a woman both emotionally and physically.
How much is 'heavy'?
Of course this is difficult to define as the amount of blood loss during a period varies considerably from woman to woman. Although it’s normally unnecessary, doctors can measure a woman’s blood loss. Medical professional consider excessive blood loss to be 60-80 ml or more in a cycle. In most women, this is double the average amount of blood lost during a period.
Most women have an idea how much bleeding is normal, so if you are experiencing what you consider to be abnormal amounts you should visit your GP. If you’re unsure, a good indication that blood loss is excessive is if you are using an abnormally high amount of pads or tampons, you are experiencing heavy bleeding through to your bedding or clothes, or if you need both tampons and towels together.
How common are they?
As women can’t agree on what constitutes a heavy period, it’s not easy to estimate how many women are affected by them. Estimates suggest that at least one in ten women has heavy periods.
If menorrhagia is diagnosed, medication or surgery could be the answer. If there are no signs of an underlying cause or further investigation is required, medication will be prescribed. If you are unable to take medication, then surgery could be carried out.
What are heavy periods a sign of?
Heavy periods can be a sign of an underlying problem. Your GP or gynaecologist is best placed to answer any questions or concerns you might have, so you should make sure to book an appointment rather than self-diagnose with information found in books or on the web.