What causes a heavy period?
THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM NATASHA’S BOOK: YOUR PERIOD HANDBOOK.
Heavy bleeding really sucks. The constant worry of it seeping through your clothes, that weird hot flood of blood when you stand up, the extreme lethargy! Many women end up too scared to leave the house as a result. But how much is too much? I have a medical reference book that says “if periods are reported as unacceptably heavy, then they are”!
I love this definition. No more ambiguous measurements that no one (except menstrual cup users) can actually measure. No more "how many pads do you get through in a day?’’ Whatever you find unacceptable is too much. End of.
If someone tells me they have to get up in the night numerous times to change their sanitary product, that raises red flags for me. I feel the same if a patient says they wear multiple products at once e.g. a tampon and a pad or a pad on top of another pad.
The fancy term for heavy periods is Menorrhagia. If you are ever diagnosed with this, don’t be fooled, it’s just the latin word for heavy periods. It doesn’t mean they know anything much about what the cause is. In fact, in 50-60% of women, they never do find a cause and this gets called dysfunctional uterine bleeding, or DUB for short (Collins et.al., 2013). It’s a diagnosis of exclusion. Once they know nothing else is happening you are awarded the DUB prize!
What to do
Firstly, make sure it isn’t being caused by any disorders such as the ones below. Once you’ve had it confirmed to be ‘normal’ for you, you can get on with treating it. If it were caused by a reproductive disorder the most effective way to treat it is to treat those things. But, as in many cases, where the menorrhagia is happening with no known reason you can get straight on with taking herbs and supplements to help. It will help to see a doctor or one of our herbalists to find out exactly what’s going on.
SOME POSSIBLE REPRODUCTIVE CAUSES
- 'Functional' aka DUB
- Uterine or endometrial polyps
SOME OTHER CAUSES
- Abnormal prostaglandin ratios
- Coagulation defects
NORMAL LIFE EVENTS AS CAUSE
- Menarche (first year of periods can be erratic and different from what they will become)
Relaxants: lime blossom (Tilia cordata), or rose (Rosa damascena). To reduce stress which may lead to a hormone imbalance.
Liver support: marigold (Calendula officinalis) or dandelion root (Taraxacum officinalis rad.) to clear excess hormones faster.
Anti-haemorrhage: raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus), shepherd’s purse (Capsella) or lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) to stop heavy blood flow.
Phytooestrogens: marigold (Calendula officinalis) to balance oestrogen in the body.
Blood tonics: alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and nettle leaf (Urtica dioica fol.) to replenish the body after blood loss.
Womb tonics: lady’s mantle (Alchemila vulgaris) and raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) to support womb health.
Losing blood also means you’re losing iron and having less iron means you’ll bleed more! So get on with having some iron supplements. Nettle is rich in iron but you may need something stronger like our Aunt Flo's Drinking Chocolate. Vitamin A helps with endometrial growth and Vitamin K for increased blood clotting.
Aunt Flo's Drinking Chocolate
Our best selling hot chocolate fortifies you when you're feeling depleted, and tastes incredible too.
Start Aunt Flo a few days before your period is due and continue taking it daily for 3-5 days after your period begins.
Your Period Handbook
Forage Botanical founder Natasha Richardson's easy to read and powerful guide to understanding and reclaiming your cycle.
A trained medical herbalist specialising in women's health, Natasha has helped hundreds of people in private practice and through Forage Botanicals to find science backed natural solutions for stress free menstruation.
Your Period Handbook draws on Natasha's personal experiences of crippling period pain and her clinical expertise to educate you on everything you never knew about your period, and for most of us that is a lot.