“A heavy period is when you lose lots of blood each period.
The amount of bleeding can change
at different life stages”.1

Umbrella
What may the Periods and Heavy Bleeding Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding
  • Heavy Bleeding
  • Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
  • Heavy Periods
  • Heavy Uterine Bleeding
  • Menorrhagia

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

What is heavy menstrual bleeding?

DotS the definition of heavy menstrual bleeding may vary. The (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health’s (JH) definition is:

“A heavy period is when you lose lots of blood each period. The amount of bleeding can change at different life stages. For example, in teenage years or before menopause (your last period). Heavy periods are common in women aged 30 to 50”.2

Menorrhagia

What is menorrhagia?

DotS the definition of menorrhagia may vary. The (United States) Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) definition is:

Menorrhagia is menstrual bleeding that lasts more than 7 days. It can also be bleeding that is very heavy”.3

The (United States) Mayo Clinic’s definition is:

“Some women have menstrual bleeding that is heavy or lasts for more than a few days. This condition used to be called menorrhagia. Heavy menstrual bleeding is a common concern. But most women don’t have enough blood loss for it to be called heavy menstrual bleeding”.4

Heavy or Not

How heavy is heavy menstrual bleeding?

In Bleeding Disorders In Women: Heavy Menstrual Bleeding the CDC explain:

“How do you know if you have heavy bleeding? If you need to change your tampon or pad after less than 2 hours or you pass clots the size of a quarter or larger, that is heavy bleeding. If you have this type of bleeding, you should see a doctor”.5

In Heavy Periods: How Do You Know If You Have Heavy Periods? the JH note:

“It can be hard to know if your period is too heavy, but there are some common signs. For example:

  • Your bleeding can’t be contained with a pad or tampon
  • You need to change your pad or tampon every two hours or less
  • You need to change your pad overnight
  • You notice blood clots that are bigger than a 50-cent coin
  • Your period lasts more than seven to eight days
  • Your periods stop you from doing things you normally do”.6

Cause

What causes heavy menstrual bleeding?

In Heavy Periods: Causes of Heavy Periods the (United Kingdom) NHS elaborate on:

“It can be normal to have heavy periods.

They can sometimes be heavy at different times, like when you first start your periods, after pregnancy or during menopause.

Sometimes, they can be caused by:

  • Conditions affecting your womb, ovaries or hormones, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, fibroids, endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Some medicines and treatments, including some anticoagulant medicines and chemotherapy medicines
  • Stress and depression

Rarely, heavy periods can be a sign of womb cancer”.7

In Menorrhagia (Heavy Menstrual Bleeding): Symptoms & Causes – Causes the Mayo Clinic elaborate on:

“In some cases, the cause of heavy menstrual bleeding is unknown, but a number of conditions may cause menorrhagia. Common causes include:

  • Hormone imbalance…
  • Dysfunction of the ovaries…
  • Uterine fibroids…
  • Polyps…
  • Adenomyosis…
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)…
  • Pregnancy complications…
  • Cancer…
  • Inherited bleeding disorders…
  • Medications…
  • Other medical conditions…”.8

Common or Not

How common is heavy menstrual bleeding?

According to the JH:

Periods and Heavy Bleeding“About one in four women have heavy periods (heavy menstrual bleeding)”.9

Bleeding Disorder

Is there an association between a bleeding disorder and heavy menstrual bleeding?

In Bleeding Disorders the Office on Women’s Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Womenshealth.gov quote the 2001 data:

“As many as one in 10 women with heavy menstrual periods may have a bleeding disorder”.10

Treatment

What are treatment options for heavy menstrual bleeding?

On page two in Heavy Periods: Treatment the (British) Women’s Health Concern elaborate on:

“Treatment options depend on the type and duration of abnormal bleeding, the presence of specific disease or condition, your age, and desire for further pregnancies. Treatment can be medical or surgical”.11

In Bleeding Disorders In Women: Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Treatment the CDC elaborate on different types of treatment and note:

“The type of treatment you get will depend on the cause of your bleeding and how serious it is. Your doctor also will look at things such as your age, general health, and medical history; how well you respond to certain medicines, procedures, or therapies; and your wants and needs”.12

Look for A PatternPeriods and Menopause

Can it be helpful to record period dates and symptoms?

In Heavy Periods the (Scottish) NHS Inform explain:

“It can be helpful to keep a note of your period dates and symptoms using a calendar, a diary or an app. You can then discuss this with your doctor who can decide if any tests or treatments might be needed.

If you’re seeing your doctor, there are some useful pieces of information to think about beforehand:

  • The first day of your last period (when it started)
  • How many days your period usually lasts
  • What was the shortest time between your periods (from the first day of one period to the first day of the next)
  • What was the longest time between your periods (from the first day of one period to the first day of the next)
  • How often you need to change your period products on a heavy day
  • If you are over 25, when you had your last smear test”.13

Health Care Provider

What if I have heavy menstrual bleeding?

If you have heavy menstrual bleeding, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this. In Heavy Menstrual Bleeding (Menorrhagia): Living With – When Do You Call Your Healthcare Provider If You Suspect Heavy Period Bleeding? the (United States) Cleveland Clinic explain:

“You should call your provider if you’re experiencing the symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding or anemia, or if your period bleeding has become abnormal. Tracking your periods using a calendar or app can help you identify if your periods are heavier and longer-lasting than usual. Share these notes with your provider.

You should also schedule an appointment if you notice that you’re having to double-up on menstrual products or if you’re skipping activities you enjoy because of heavy bleeding”.14

The Mayo Clinic also note:

“Seek medical help before your next scheduled exam if you experience:

  • Vaginal bleeding so heavy it soaks at least one pad or tampon an hour for more than two hours in a row
  • Bleeding between periods or irregular vaginal bleeding
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause”.15

Health Topics A-Z

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Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Heavy Periods. Updated: May 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/resources/heavy-periods Accessed: 17 April 2024
  2. Heavy Periods. Updated: May 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/resources/heavy-periods Accessed: 17 April 2024
  3. Bleeding Disorders In Women: Heavy Menstrual Bleeding. Last Reviewed: 23 June 2023. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html Accessed: 17 April 2024
  4. Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Symptoms & Causes – Overview. 30 August 2023. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352829 Accessed: 17 April 2024
  5. Bleeding Disorders In Women: Heavy Menstrual Bleeding. Last Reviewed: 23 June 2023. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html Accessed: 17 April 2024
  6. Heavy Periods: How Do You Know If You Have Heavy Periods? Updated: May 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/resources/heavy-periods Accessed: 17 April 2024
  7. Heavy Periods: Causes of Heavy Periods. Page Last Reviewed: 03 November 2021. NHS https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heavy-periods/#what-causes-heavy-periods Accessed: 17 April 2024
  8. Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Symptoms & Causes – Causes. 30 August 2023. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352829 Accessed: 17 April 2024
  9. Heavy Periods. Updated: May 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/resources/heavy-periods Accessed: 17 April 2024
  10. Bleeding Disorders. Page Last Updated: February 22, 2021. Office on Women’s Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Womenshealth.gov https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/bleeding-disorders Accessed: 17 April 2024
  11. Heavy Bleeding: Treatment. Publication Date: November 2022:2. British Women’s Health Concern https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/heavy-periods/ Accessed: 17 April 2024
  12. Bleeding Disorders In Women: Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Treatment. Last Reviewed: 23 June 2023. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html Accessed: 17 April 2024
  13. Heavy Periods. Last Updated: 14 March 2023. NHS Inform https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/womens-health/girls-and-young-women-puberty-to-around-25/periods-and-menstrual-health/heavy-periods/ Accessed: 17 April 2024
  14. Heavy Menstrual Bleeding (Menorrhagia): Living With – When Do You Call Your Healthcare Provider If You Suspect Heavy Period Bleeding? Last Reviewed: 11 November 2021. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17734-menorrhagia-heavy-menstrual-bleeding Accessed: 17 April 2024
  15. Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Symptoms & Causes – Symptoms: When To See A Doctor. 30 August 2023. Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352829 Accessed: 17 April 2024
Topic Last Updated: 15 May 2024 – Topic Last Reviewed: 17 April 2024

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