Having heavy periods is often very annoying and uncomfortable. Medically, a heavy period is when you soak through a pad or tampon within two hours. This is a condition called menorrhagia. The definition is when a woman has a heavy period (see above) or when her period lasts longer than 7 days.
Should I Be Concerned?
Usually, a heavy period isn’t a serious medical problem, it is just a nuisance. Although, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, a heavy period is caused by an underlying medical condition. Some of the causes of heavy menstrual bleeding are:
- Endometrial cancer
- Thickening of the uterus lining
- Abnormal thyroid function
- Changes in hormones, like starting menopause
- Changes in which contraceptive you use (like birth control pills)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Luckily, most of these are pretty uncommon. More common reasons can include changes in diet or eating habits, excess stress, extreme weight changes, traveling a lot, intensive exercises, or even a surgery.
When Should I See My Doctor?
You should see your doctor at any time if it begins affecting your day to day life. Specialists suggest that you should see your doctor if you have three extremely heavy periods in a row, especially if that is not common for you.
When seeing your doctor, they will most likely ask you some questions about your family medical history and do some tests to rule out any serious medical problems. One of the most common tests they will use is a Pap smear. This is where they get a sample of cervical cells during a pelvic exam.
If there are no underlying health problems, they might offer birth control pills. These can lighten and shorten women’s periods. Some women even stop having a period altogether after starting hormonal birth control.
If heavy periods is something you have to deal with, don’t worry. Millions of women a year have to deal with the same problem. Remember that going to your doctor is always an option and they are always happy to help.