There are no set criteria for determining exactly whether your menstrual period is normal, as every woman is different. However, here's a guide to help you determine when it might be time to chat with your GP.
Your usual blood loss for each period is between 20-60 ml (about 4-12 teaspoons)
Bleeding occurs about every 24-31 days
Bleeding lasts 4-7 days
Your bleeding lasts more than 7 days per cycle
Bleeding is so severe that a regular sanitary pad or tampon must be changed every 1-2 hours
Your period causes restriction of activities, or even stops you from working
You experience severe stomach cramping and loose bowel motions
You have missed days at work, or an important family or social event due to heavy bleeding
In this episode, Shelly Horton asks the questions you want answered, including how to deal with period changes over time and what your doctor thinks when you do online research before your appointment.
* Based on regular sanitary pad or tampon changes as per the manufacturer's recommendations.
The physical effects of heavy menstrual bleeding may include:
Periods that last more than 7 days and are bothersome
Heavy bleeding that requires doubling up on sanitary protection or changing protection every 1-2 hours
Large blood clots
Fatigue or extreme tiredness
Heavy menstrual bleeding is more than just a physical condition; women are often forced to plan their lives around their heavy periods. Research has shown that:
More than 60% have had to miss social or athletic events 1
About 80% avoid sexual activities 2
One-third have been forced to miss work 3
Heavy menstrual bleeding can disrupt the lives of women in other ways as well, and can even lead to:
Reduced confidence or self-esteem
If you can identify with any of these symptoms your doctor can help. Talking with your doctor will bring you one step closer to gaining relief from heavy menstrual bleeding and regaining control of your life.
1. Cooper J, Gimpelson R, Laberge P, et al. A Randomized, Multicenter Trial of Safety and Efficacy of the NovaSure® System in the Treatment of menorrhagia.J Am Assoc Gynecol Laparosc. 2002;9(4):418-428 2. National Women's Health Resource Center. Survey of Women Who Experience Heavy Menstrual Bleeding. Hologic data on file; 2005. 3. Cooper KG, et al. A randomised comparison of medical and hysteroscopic management in women consulting a gynaecologist for treatment of heavy menstrual loss. Br J Obstet Gynecol 1997;104:1360-66.