The more you know, the easier it is to manage your period and spot unusual changes that may indicate an underlying issue. It’s important to be aware of and track changes in your cycle: the length of your periods, how heavy or light they are, if they are occurring regularly, or if you’ve skipped or experience bleeding in between cycles. The more information you record, the easier it is to explain to a medical professional which can help with diagnosing.
What Is Considered Normal?
The important thing to remember is that your “normal” can be very different than someone else’s “normal”. However, a typical period last between 3-8 days, with a heavier flow the first two days beginning to lighten over the course of the remaining days. When you first get your period, it is common that your periods may be long and heavy; however, they should change as you get older.
There are many factors that may influence length, heaviness, and frequency of your periods, these include but are not limited to: medications, exercise, contraception, pregnancy, body weight, genetics, stress, pre-menopause, and medical conditions.
What Is Considered Abnormal?
As we mentioned above, what is considered “abnormal” is also a broad range that differs from person to person. Abnormal is typically considered to be periods that last more than 10 days per month, persistent bleeding between cycles, severe symptoms that impact your daily life, missing three or more periods in a row, or periods that occur less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart of each other.
Just as we mentioned above, there are many factors that may cause an abnormal period. If something seems different or has changed, you should consult a physician immediately. Abnormal periods can sometimes be an indication of a change with your hormones or body.
What are the Signs of a Heavy Flow?
It can be extremely difficult to know if your flow is considered heavy. This is because having a heavy flow is subjective and hard to compare to others. One aspect that may define a heavy flow is if you’re bleeding through clothing or bed sheets, or if you have to constantly change tampons more than average. Constantly bleeding through multiple pads and tampons in a short amount of time is not usually considered normal.
It’s important to explain to your doctor or fibroid specialist just how many feminine hygiene products you use per day.
If you think your flow has gotten heavier over time and does not get lighter after two to three months, it’s important to inform your physician of this change.
When Should I Be Concerned?
If you’ve noticed changes that impact your daily life, it’s crucial to contact your primary physician. If you’re experiencing symptoms like heavy bleeding, bleeding between cycles, periods lasting more than 10 days, pelvic pain, frequent urination, fatigue from anemia, pain during intercourse, or a protruding belly, you should contact a fibroid specialist.
Additionally, if you are experiencing symptoms of like fatigue, lethargy, headaches, muscle weakness, or low mood, you may have a condition known as anemia. One of the most common causes of anemia in women is heavy periods.
Can a Heavy Flow Be Sign of Something Else?
It’s a possibility. While this is not always the case, an especially heavy flow can sometimes indicate uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, endometriosis, uterine polyps, pelvic infection, pre-menopause, or polycystic ovarian syndrome. This is why it is important to track changes and alert a medical professional if you notice changes. Many women may think their heavy, prolonged period is their “normal”; however, it’s important to get checked in case there is an underlying issue.
How Can You Treat a Heavy Period?
Both of these conditions can be treated effectively with a non-surgical, outpatient treatment known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UFE utilizes minimally invasive techniques to interrupt blood flow to the fibroids, or with adenoymosis, the affected area, which will cause both of these to shrink. Once the fibroids or affected layer of the uterus is shrunk, your symptoms will begin to diminish.
With over 28 treatment facilities across the nation, we are currently the largest network of fibroid centers in the United States. Our leading Interventional Radiologists utilize the most advanced technology to treat both uterine fibroids and adenoymosis.