Advertisement

Why Is My Period So Heavy?

Why Is My Period So Heavy?

If your monthly flows are heavy or long, there may be an underlying issue.

Heavy or prolonged periods can be uncomfortable, but for some women they may be downright disabling, making it difficult to do everyday activities. In fact, one-third of women experience heavy periods and seek treatment for them.

If you experience heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, you may have wondered what could be causing it. Here’s what you should know, plus how to ease pesky or uncomfortable symptoms. 

What is heavy menstruation?
Healthcare providers used to use the term “menorrhagia” to describe heavy menstrual bleeding or periods that last an unusually long time. Now, you’ll likely hear the term “heavy menstruation” instead.

It’s normal to lose about two to three tablespoons of blood during your period. And the average woman's period lasts four to seven days. But losing twice as much blood as normal or having a period that lasts longer than seven days may be a sign of heavy menstruation.

What are the symptoms of heavy menstruation?
Women with heavy or prolonged bleeding may experience one or all of these distressing symptoms:

  • Blood clots in menstrual flow
  • The need to change tampons or pads every hour for several hours
  • The need to get up at night to change tampons or pads
  • The need to double up on products (e.g., wear a tampon and a pad at the same time)
  • Fatigue from anemia due to excess blood loss

What causes heavy periods?
Heavy menstruation can be caused by a variety of factors, many of which aren't serious, and can include:

  • Hormone imbalances
  • Implantable birth control devices
  • Disorders of the reproductive system, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, uterine polyps, endometriosis
  • Pelvic infections or tumors
  • Liver or kidney problems
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Thyroid disease
  • Bleeding disorders (rare)

Are there any other risk factors for heavy menstruation?
Any woman who menstruates can experience heavy periods, but the condition is most common in women who have an imbalance in the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. These hormone imbalances are most common in very young women who have just started menstruating and in women over 40 who may be in perimenopause.  Smoking or having relatives who suffer from heavy menstruation also raises the risk.

Fortunately, there are treatments that can reduce or eliminate menstrual bleeding. You and your healthcare provider can discuss the options that may be right for you, including hormone therapy, certain medications or even surgery.

Medically reviewed in May 2019. Updated in August 2019.

more from this guide

Severe Period Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
What Actually Happens During Your Menstrual Cycle What Actually Happens During Your Menstrual Cycle

Your period is only one small part.

Read More
How to Get Relief for Heavy Periods How to Get Relief for Heavy Periods

There’s no need to suffer each month. Here are some ways to ease symptoms.

Read More
5 Ways Endometriosis Pain Differs from Normal Period Pain 5 Ways Endometriosis Pain Differs from Normal Period Pain

Learn how endometriosis pain differs from normal period pain and why painful periods may not be so “normal” after all.

Read More