I don’t think any sanitary napkin advertisement in the world is ever complete without a female protagonist facing a period so heavy that she can’t get out of her bed to carry on with her routinely activities–until the brand’s pad comes to the rescue and brings her life back on track.
Good for the brand, if you can relate. But unfortunately, experiencing an overtly heavy period in real life (a condition known as Menorrhagia) might not be signaling anything good for your health—especially if unlike the ad, even the best brands can’t save you from Aunt Flo’s outrageous flow.
When should you be scared of Aunt Flow though?
Perhaps, if you’re losing more blood than 80 mL per cycle according to clinical research studies, it should be a cause of concern.
Yes, I get that it’s difficult to measure unless you’re using a menstrual cup. So, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends being alarmed in case of “excessive menstrual blood loss, which interferes with a woman’s physical, social, emotional and/or material quality of life.”
Basically, if your period lasts longer than seven days; if your pad fills up every hour causing you to rush and change very frequently—even during night time; if your energy levels hit an all-time low and you are short of breath; and well, if you experience excruciating pain in your abdomen and lower back during menstruation, you’re in trouble, girl.
Here are five possible reasons you could be experiencing this torture:
1. Your hormones are out of line
Oestrogen, to be precise, is the real cause here. It is hugely responsible in preparing your uterus for pregnancy by lining it well. Unfortunately, excess oestrogen leads to excess thickening of the uterus lining. And obviously when you don’t get pregnant, thicker lining breaks down to cause a heavier flow. I am not saying this, a research conducted at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is.
In fact, a hormonal imbalance can also lead to PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) causing irregular ovulation and subsequent heavy bleeding. Not to mention, if you get down less frequently but your period is heavy, watch out for a thyroid imbalance in your body.
2. Bleeding disorder could be to blame
Excessive bleeding during your period could also be caused if you’re suffering from a bleeding disorder like the Von Willebrand disease caused due to the deficiency of a particular type of protein in the body, according to a study by K. Sue Robinson, Nova Scotia Health Authority.
In fact, it accounts for menorrhagia in 10-30% women, so check for symptoms like easy bruising and frequent nose and gum bleeding if you’re suspicious and then head straight to the doc for diagnosis if the dots connect.
3. Beware of the polyps and fibroids
For starters, polyps are abnormal tissue growths with a bump-like appearance, which could resemble mushrooms. They could grow anywhere in the body, but if you get them in your uterine lining or the tract, you could experience heavy menstrual bleeding and well, even vaginal bleeding.
Now imagine the dangers of a growth larger than the polyps! Enter fibroids, that typically develop in the uterus. Fortunately, these are hardly ever carcinogenic, but you should get them treated, nonetheless.
4. Birth control methods could be out of control
Girls, if you’re leaning on intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control, you really want to make sure that the small ‘T’-shaped device fitted inside your uterus contains enough hormones to not make your periods heavy.
If not the IUD, suddenly stopping or starting oral contraceptives can create quite a hormonal stir in your body leading to excessive blood loss during your period.
5. You could be pregnant
Unfortunately, in this case, pregnancy might not be a “good news”. According to WebMd, you could be having an ectopic pregnancy, a rare type of pregnancy in which once the sperm meets your egg, the fertilised set of cells implant themselves outside the uterus. You have no option but to terminate this pregnancy.
You could even be completely unaware of a miscarriage in which the baby has died inside the womb causing a heavy flow.
When it comes to gynecological health, only an experienced doctor is your best friend. All I can ask you to do is to look out for symptoms and head to the doc if you can relate.
If all’s well, then you better start following a healthy lifestyle with proper workouts and a balanced diet to prevent any such complications in the future. Refraining from alcohol and smoking would also help with the prevention. So get started!