How To Stop Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Can Natural Remedies Help
This article was co-authored by Zora Degrandpre, ND. Dr. Degrandpre is a Licensed Naturopathic Physician in Vancouver, Washington. She is also a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She received her ND from the National College of Natural Medicine in 2007.There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 23 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 916,287 times.
Most women experience a heavy menstrual flow occasionally. If you have periods that last longer than 7 days and cause excessive bleeding, this is called menorrhagia.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source That sounds like a scary name, but dont worry! You have a lot of options for treating a heavy period. Some home remedies might help control your flow and relieve your pain. However, if you regularly have heavy periods, then see your doctor to make sure you dont have any underlying health issues causing them.
Natural Treatments For The Heavy Periods Of Perimenopause
Perimenopausal heavy periods are more serious than the temporary heavy periods of the teenage years. Without treatment, perimenopausal periods can become heavier and heavier as menopause approaches.
Natural treatments for perimenopausal heavy periods include all of the above treatments:
Plus the following:
Why Does Menopause Cause Heavy Periods
Your natural menstrual cycle is driven by your hormones. The menopause is the time that your hormone levels fall so that you no longer experience menstrual periods. In the lead up to this cessation, your hormone levels may fluctuate erratically, causing changes to your menstrual cycle, including heavy periods.
During a normal menstrual cycle, the hormone oestrogen is produced to stimulate the thickening of the lining of the womb. When the egg is released from the ovaries, they produce the hormone progesterone.
The interplay of these two hormones means that your periods are regular and not too heavy or light. However, as you approach the menopause, sometimes an egg is not released from the ovaries, although oestrogen is still produced. This means that there is not enough progesterone to balance the effect of oestrogen, leading to heavy periods.
During the menopause, you may encounter other factors which could result in heavy periods, ranging from stress to the side effects of medication. If you suspect that there is an underlying cause to your heavy periods, then it is important to consult a doctor to tackle this.
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How Do You Know If Your Bleeding Is Too Heavy
It is very difficult to determine whether your bleeding is too heavy. The best guide is to decide whether your period is having an impact on your quality of life if it is causing you to be housebound, interrupting your daily activities, or causing you stress and anxiety. The following signs might indicate you are experiencing heavy bleeding:
- bleeding or ‘flooding’ not contained within a pad/tampon
- changing a pad/tampon every hour or less
- changing a pad overnight
- clots greater than a 50-cent piece in size
- bleeding for more than seven to eight days.
An Introduction To Heavy Periods And Menopause
In the lead up to the menopause, known as the peri-menopause, many women experience changes to their normal menstrual cycle, including unusually heavy bleeding. This symptom is usually accompanied by irregular periods. A woman may go for several months without a period and then experience particularly heavy bleeding, or may find her periods coming thick and fast.
Aside from the obvious inconvenience of this, heavy bleeding may also lead to further health problems, such as anaemia. This is when there is not a high enough level of iron in the body. This can lead to extreme exhaustion and weakness.
While many women suffer from heavy periods in the lead up to their menopause, it is important to remember that prolonged bleeding should be checked by your doctor. Bleeding for longer than 1 week per month is not healthy.
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How To Tell You Have Heavy Periods
Now that we know how our cycles work and what should be happening every month, lets look at the key signs that your period is heavier than it should be.
If youre exhibiting these symptoms, you are suffering from heavy periods:
- Bleeding for more than seven days
- Changing menstrual products more frequently than once every two hours
- Needing to double up on menstrual products, i.e. using a cup but wearing a pad for back up
- Heavy bleeding with clots larger than a quarter
- Waking to change menstrual products at night
Natural Solutions For Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Have you ever felt like youve had to hide from the world when you get your period? Or that your heavy bleeding is going to seep through your pants while youre at work or out for dinner?
Although I havent personally experienced heavy bleeding, also known as Menorrhagia yes, thats the fancy term for heavy bleeding, I work with many women in my practice who experience and dread their monthly period for this very reason.
In fact, aside from your typical pms symptoms such as bloating, cramping, fatigue and moodiness, heavy bleeding is by far one of the top concerns my clients are suffering with.
And suffering it is! From literally having to wear a super tampon, and a super pad, plus 2 pairs of undies, its embarrassing, frustrating and down right uncomfortable.
So whats a woman supposed to do? How exactly can you fix your heavy bleeding?
First off, its important to note that an average blood loss ranges from 10-80 milliliters. Each soaked regular pad or tampon holds roughly 5ml of blood, so its normal to soak 2-7 pads/tampons during each period. A super tampon holds 10 mL. So, 80 mL equates to 16 fully soaked regular tampons, or 8 fully soaked super-tampons over all the days of the period.
Very heavy bleeding is much more than 80 mL. Some women report that they lose up to 500 mL, or 2 cups of blood. That is A LOT! This can literally mean blood-soaked clothing or sheets.
So how much are you actually bleeding?
So why heavy periods? Whats the actual cause?
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Is Heavy Menstrual Bleeding Interfering With Your Life Learn About Treatment Options That Can Help
This article has been archived. We will no longer be updating it. For our most up-to-date information, please visit our menstrual period information here.
Heavy menstrual bleeding is defined as soaking a pad and/or tampon every hour or less during each menstrual cycle. For many women, heavy menstrual bleeding is a huge obstacle to their lifestyles. Have you ever had to reschedule an activity around your menstrual period? Then, you know the toll it can take. You may not know that heavy bleeding can be more than a schedule buster. The heavy bleeding can also lead to iron-deficient anemia, the most common health-related threat of menorrhagia. While most cases of anemia are easily treated with oral iron supplements, sometimes the bleeding is so severe a woman’s entire volume of blood drops, leading to shortness of breath, severe fatigue and heart palpitations that require hospitalization.
There are several options you may want to try to reduce your heavy menstrual bleeding. These include:
- Ice packs. Put an ice pack on your abdomen for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day when bleeding is especially heavy.
- Vitamins.Try vitamin C supplements to help your body absorb iron and possibly strengthen blood vessels.
- Iron. Some research suggests low iron levels can increase menstrual bleeding, and that supplementing with the mineral can reduce menstrual bleeding.
Herbal Remedies For Menstrual Flooding In Perimenopause
Being a woman means you will bleed. Not all blood is from wounds, nor does it always have to be be dangerous, scary, or gross. Bleeding is a natural, normal, and healthy part of a womans life. Beginning with menstruation, then during and after childbirth, and finally during menopause. As a woman slowly changes hormonally during the process of menopause many women experience erratic menstrual cycles and sometimes heavy unexpected flows commonly referred to as flooding. On todays Apothecary Wisdom were continuing our conversation about menopause and menstrual flooding. Im so glad youre here with me today. Together were growing and learning more about womens wisdom, botanical wisdom, and feminine power.
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This is a really important conversation for us to have, and for women to understand and know how to address some of the causes of irregular and heavy periods. Did you know that hysterectomy is one of the most commonly recommended treatments for abnormal vaginal bleeding? In the US, there are as many as 650,000 hysterectomies performed per year . Its important to note that more than half of those surgeries are considered unnecessary! By age 65, approximately 37% of women will have undergone a hysterectomy, even for relatively benign conditions such as fibroids. Approximately 650 women die from complications from the procedure each year.
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Natural Treatments For The Heavy Periods Of Teenagers
Heavy periods are a temporary thing for teenagers. They happen because:
- estrogen receptors are quite sensitive for the first few years of periods
- cycles are often still anovulatory, so there is no progesterone being made to lighten the period.
As estrogen receptors become less sensitive and girls start to ovulate, periods should lighten.
Here are some simple ways to reduce heavy menstrual flow in teenagers:
- Conventional anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen block prostaglandins and reduce menstrual flow by half. I learned this simple treatment from Canadian endocrinologist Jerilynn Prior. The recommended dose is 200mg every 6 hours during the first day or two of the period. Ibuprofen is not a natural treatment as such, but in my view, it is a very sensible and practical solution. Two days of ibuprofen per month is a better strategy than the pill.
- Turmeric also works to reduce bleeding. Take it every day throughout the month.
- Avoid cows milk products to reduce inflammation and lighten periods. Dairy-free really works for some girls, but it might take two to three months to see the full benefit. A2 milk is usually ok. Read What dairy does to periods.
- Supplement iron. Heavy periods cause iron deficiency and iron deficiency worsen heavy periods. Use a good quality, gentle chelated iron . The dose is 15-50 mg and is best taken after the evening meal.
How Long Is Too Long For A Period During Perimenopause
The road to menopause comes with many changes. Night sweats, hormonal imbalances, and vaginal dryness are a few of the well-known symptoms of perimenopause. Heavy, painful periods are also a symptom thats quite common roughly 25 percent of women report experiencing them. Read on to learn the basics of perimenopause bleeding and how to manage extended perimenopause periods.
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What Causes Heavy Periods
Many underlying conditions can contribute to heavy periods. It may be a result of hypothyroidism, bleeding disorders, fibroids, ovulatory dysfunction, endometrial polyps, anemia, adenomyosis, certain medications or even cancer. Thats why it is imperative that you find a root cause doctor to confirm the underlying cause and get effective treatment as soon as possible.
The most common cause of heavy periods is hormonal imbalance. Estrogen dominance is the most common hormonal imbalance. Estrogen and progesterone must balance each other in order for us to be healthy. If either become relatively too low or too high, we suffer from uncomfortable and disruptive symptoms.
Estrogen can become too high relative to progesterone a number of ways
- Our livers are responsible for eliminating used estrogen from our system. If our livers are compromised or overwhelmed by toxins, we cant effectively filter estrogen and blood levels rise.
- Estrogen that is processed by the liver travels to the colon for elimination. If we are constipated, estrogen can be reabsorbed into our bloodstream and recirculated throughout our bodies.
- Chemicals that mimic estrogen can trick our bodies and cause us to exhibit symptoms of estrogen dominance. Endocrine-disrupting ingredients in conventional personal care products and estrogen mimetics in insecticides and herbicides are the most common sources of toxic xenoestrogen exposure.
What causes us to produce insufficient amounts of progesterone?
What Is Considered Abnormal Perimenopause Bleeding
Typical irregularities aside, certain cases of perimenopausal bleeding could require closer medical attention. The following are considered abnormal perimenopausal bleeding patterns:
- Very heavy menstrual bleeding, particularly with clotting
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
Approximately 25 percent of women experience heavy perimenopausal bleeding, also referred to as menorrhagia, flooding, or hypermenorrhea. Potential reasons for increased menstrual flow include:
- An imbalance of estrogen and progesterone hormones
- Fibroids: benign tumors, which may grow larger and cause heavy perimenopausal bleeding
- Endometrial hyperplasia: a thickening of the uterine lining that leads to irregular bleeding
- Endometrial polyps: small, noncancerous tissue growths in the uterine lining enlarged by the onset of perimenopause
- Thyroid problems: heavy perimenopausal bleeding is sometimes brought on by an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome: an endocrine disorder that produces irregular periods along with abnormal bleeding in the uterus
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Botanical Strategies For Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding And Menstrual Flooding
Any time you have excessive, unpatterned, or prolonged periods consider getting a consultation with your trusted health care provider. Its important to rule out potential pathology. After a gynecologic exam and the irregular menstrual bleeding has been ruled out to be benign, then its reasonable to implement botanical strategies in combination with other complementary therapies such as nutrition, mindfulness practices, stress reduction, and weight management. If these therapies do not bring the desired results then consider more aggressive medical management.
Herbs can be a womans best friend. Learning about herbs for menstrual health is empowering. Recognizing the difference between normal and abnormal bleeding in menopause and knowing which herbs can help is a step toward personal independence. It is a proactive step in the process of connecting with your body and womans wisdom. Herbal approaches for menstrual flooding can address acute bleeding episodes and/or for chronic heavy and irregular periods.
All of these herbs are time honored as a womans herbs for their ability to reduce postpartum hemorrhage, menstrual flooding, and increase uterine tone. These herbs help control acute excessive uterine bleeding.
Helpful herbs to correct anemia or other underlying nutritional deficiencies
- Wild Yam
Next week well cover how to enjoy your menstruation and what you can do to bring more menstrual harmony into your life.
Fifth: Increase Intake Of Key Nutrients
A combination of nutrient deficiencies can really keep you trapped in the cycle of heavy bleeding. Even if you try to get all your nutrients through food alone, you WILL come up short.Here are the top 3 supplements I recommend for women in perimenopause who are consistently experiencing heavy bleeding:
- Magnesium Magnesium is the PERFECT tool to give you quick wins during your period and throughout the month. It acts as a gentle muscle relaxant to reduce pain during your period and it may even help lighten your flow! Plus it helps you sleep, handle stress better, and keep your hormones in an ideal balance. Not all magnesium supplements are effective, so !
- IronIf you bleed heavily for more than a couple of cycles in a row, adding iron supplements can help ward off anemia due to blood loss. If you feel especially tired and lethargic, or if you have symptoms like thinning hair, reduced thyroid function, or cold hands and feet, you should definitely consider adding iron to your daily regimen!
- Vitamin DIf you are a typical woman in the US, you arent getting enough vitamin D. And if you are dealing with heavy or painful periods, adding vitamin D is an easy fix to get you feeling better, faster! Studies show that vitamin D deficiency and menstrual problems go hand-in-hand, and especially during perimenopause, this vitamin becomes essential to help govern your energy, mood, sleep, immunity, hormones, and more. Get my recommended vitamin D supplement here .
How Is Heavy Bleeding Diagnosed
After a thorough history and clinical examination including a cervical screening test and swabs your doctor might order blood tests and/or a pelvic ultrasound to eliminate some of the possible causes listed previously. The gold standard is to perform a hysteroscopy and curette in all women over 35 years of age to rule out endometrial hyperplasia or cancer. This is where the lining of the womb is viewed with a telescope the hysteroscope and is then lightly scraped away and a biopsy taken for examination.
When Should I See A Doctor For Heavy Periods
Many women have come to accept heavy bleeding as a normal part of their cycle. This helps explain why over half of women with menorrhagia dont know they have it, or know that heavy periods are treatable. If left untreated, heavy periods can cause other health concerns like anemia, a red blood cell condition that makes it difficult for your organs to get the oxygen they need.
If your period affects your daily life by causing you to miss work or school, cancel social activities or plan your day around bathroom breaks, you might have menorrhagia. Heavy bleeding can cause other physical symptoms that can make you dread getting your period like extreme fatigue, very painful cramps, lightheadedness, anxiety and depression.
We recommend making an appointment with one of our womens health doctors if you experience any of the above symptoms. A doctor will be able to diagnose whats causing your heavy periods and recommend treatment options. If youre not sure whether your period is normal, just ask!
Our womens health doctors at HealthPartners and Park Nicollet are here to answer your questions. Well help you put an end to planning your life around heavy periods.
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