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When Your Heavy Flow Is Considered Abnormal

When Your Heavy Flow Is Considered Abnormal

Periods can be a real pain, but when your flow is heavier than normal, they can wind up practically taking over your life, or at least some aspects of it. Of course, every woman’s flow can be different, and that makes it difficult to know if what you’re experiencing is truly an unusually heavy flow. Here’s how to tell if your flow is heavy enough to warrant medical attention — and why seeking care is important for your health.

Measuring your flow

Most women wear pads or tampons — or sometimes both — to manage their menstrual flow. These products are great at absorbing fluid — but once that fluid is absorbed, it can be difficult to get any real measurement of your flow. One solution is to wear a menstrual cup. These products actually catch your flow before it leaves your body. You empty the cup into the toilet on a regular basis, the same way you’d change a tampon or a pad. But there’s a difference: With a menstrual cup, you can actually measure the amount of fluid over a given time period. Better still, some cups actually have little marks on them indicating the amount of fluid they contain.

Still, as handy as that may sound, not every woman wants to use or handle a menstrual cup. And if your flow is really heavy, your cup might overflow as well, leaking fluid into your clothes and onto your body. Fortunately, there are other ways to get a fairly good estimate of your flow. It’s actually pretty simple. See if any of these symptoms sound familiar:

If you have any of those symptoms, you probably have an abnormally heavy flow — and you should come in for an office visit.

How a heavy flow can affect your health

Obviously, a heavy period can make it a lot more difficult to do a lot of things you’d normally take for granted. For some women, flow is so heavy, it can make it difficult to maintain a normal work routine, travel on a plane, or even get a good night’s sleep. Beyond those effects, losing a significant amount of blood every month substantially increases your risk of developing an iron deficiency. Iron is important for carrying oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. When your organs and tissues don’t get enough oxygen-rich blood, you can experience significant fatigue and weakness, and you may find it difficult to concentrate.

The most common cause of heavy bleeding during perimenopause (the months and years leading up to menopause) is hormonal dysregulation. As a woman ages, her production of estrogen declines. Lower levels of estrogen can have a marked effect on periods; some women may have irregular periods or they may have spotting between periods, while others may have very heavy bleeding, a condition called menorrhagia.

But some types of heavy menstrual bleeding are associated with more serious underlying medical problems, like:

Regardless of the cause, heavy menstrual bleeding should always be evaluated by your doctor so you can receive the most appropriate care and hopefully prevent more serious complications.

If you’re having unusual symptoms with your period — a heavy flow, skipped periods, bleeding between periods, severe cramps, or other unusual or disruptive symptoms — scheduling an office visit at McDowell Mountain Gynecology in Scottsdale, Arizona, is the first step toward getting the care you need so you can feel better. To learn what’s causing your symptoms, book an appointment online today.

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