Advice of the Week: 5 Ways to Deal with a Heavy Period

Advice of the Week: 5 Ways to Deal with a Heavy Period

Jessie Wallace
By Jessie Wallace
As women, we just have to deal with the monthly interruption of our menstrual cycle. It affects the clothing we choose to wear and the activities we decide to do. It interrupts our sex lives and can cause some rather unpleasant symptoms. While important to our overall health, it’s an annoyance, but some women are affected by it more so than others. A heavy period, or menorrhagia is defined by bleeding that lasts more than 7 days, results in needing to change a tampon or pad within less than a two-hour time frame, or passing blood clots bigger than a quarter. Many women just assume that it’s normal for them and deal with it, but it can be a sign of some undiagnosed health problems, such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or hormonal issues. If you think you may have a heavy period and you don’t already know why you should talk to your doctor. Some causes may require treatment. If you already know why you have a heavy period, you should know you’re not alone. According to the 1CDC, it affects more than 10 million women in the US. Women’s health is continuing to advance, and we’re always learning new things about our bodies. If you do suffer from menorrhagia, don’t just assume that it will never get better. Some of the causes have no cure yet, but some do. It never hurts to revisit the issue with your doctor and ask questions. For those who lack a permanent fix, there are some things to lessen the negative impact of your heavy flow.

1 Think about using a menstrual cup

Menstrual cups are growing in popularity and there are a lot of reasons why. They’re good for the environment, better on your wallet, and the most helpful for a heavy period, they 234hold more. A super tampon or pad can absorb about half of what a cup can hold, and some menstrual cups will even have markers on the side to let you know how much you’ve bled for a more accurate answer to give your doctor. As a result, they will need to be emptied less often. Some are disposable, but others are washable, which frees you from needing to repeatedly buy period protection. Some women report fewer cramps, though there is no evidence to support this, and some are even safe to wear during sex. The cup can 3reduce odor as it keeps the blood contained within a seal instead of allowing it to come into contact with the air and vaginal discharge. As a result, it reduces bacterial growth which causes the odors. Because it doesn’t absorb but collects the blood, it doesn’t soak up the natural lubrication so a lot of women claim it increases their overall comfort. While it can take a bit to find the right cup for you and to get used to inserting it correctly, it creates a seal to collect the period blood and means no leaking if you move or sit a certain way like with a pad.

2 Put heat on your abdomen

For those who deal with cramping during their heavy flow, a little heat can go a long way. Increased temperature has been used to relax muscles since ancient civilizations and with good reason. Relaxing the muscles eases tension and spasms. It works the same way with cramps. Sitting in a hot bath will do the same trick. The warmth relaxes the uterine muscles and reduces cramping. It will also increase your blood flow, possibly shortening your period as well. A clinical instructor for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Cincinnati, Michael Zinger, MD did a 4study to find out how much heat helped with period pain. In the study, they placed heat on the abdomens of women with a painful period for four hours. During the first hour, 27% said their pain was reduced. The longer the application, the more effective. After the fourth hour, 79% said it helped. If taking a hot bath is your preference, try adding Epson salt to the water. This is done for people with sore and tense muscles, and there are a lot of scented options. Choose a calming scent to further relax you. Some of us, especially mothers, don’t have the option to take a bath while on our periods, but there are options for adding heat on the go as well. There are multiple adhesive heating pad options that you stick underneath your clothing. You can wear them for as long as it lasts. Most shouldn’t be worn against the skin, but putting it on the outside of underwear will work. If these or any form of heat therapy you use begins to feel too hot, remove it immediately. You want to relax your muscles, not burn your skin.

3 Know it’s coming and for how long

Your menstrual cycle is just that, a cycle. It should be fairly regular, and therefore you can plan for it. When yours is about to come, take advantage of having a heads up. Make sure you have your period protection supplies with you at all times. Take an NSAID right before cramping usually starts as it’s been shown to help reduce period pain. Make sure your favorite blankets are not on your bed in case of a nightly start. If you’re like most of us and your days blend together, use a women’s health tracker to keep tabs on when it’s getting close. We all can get incredibly busy with careers and families, so using something to keep track for you is not a bad idea. Having that little reminder will help you stay on top of it, and it also helps you know if it’s lasting longer than usual or changing in some way. As mentioned above, there’s a cause for a heavy period. Knowing your menstrual cycle better will help with diagnoses or determining how to deal with it better. It can also save you money, as you can wear a pad before it starts to save your clothing from stains and any embarrassing bleed through. Most women will feel more confident when they know they’re ready for it, and for some, it’s not always practical to keep period protection on their person at all times. They need to know when to have it on hand.

4 Use layers for night time comfort

Women who have a heavy period will often spend sleepless nights trying to lay in the right position or getting up repeatedly to change their pad or tampon. Then, when you inevitably bleed through you have to get up to change the blankets and sheets. Often it results in trying to remove stains from a mattress before it sets. This reduces your much needed rest, as many women will actually feel tired and drained through their menstrual cycle. One way to have some peace of mind is to add layers of absorbent material that you don’t care about staining. This way, when leaks do happen, because they will occasionally no matter how hard you try to avoid them, you can get up and strip off the soiled layer, then lay back down. It means for shorter sleep interruptions and keeps your sheets and mattress stain free. If your period lasts for a whole seven days and you don’t want to sleep on a towel or something similar, you can also get those disposable puppy training pads or incontinent pads and put it under an old thinner blanket. These are made to absorb more liquid than what you lose during your period, so there will be no way it will leak through and be a thinner option to sleep on, but they usually have a slight crinkle noise.

5 Drink water, water, and more water

Becoming dehydrated has been linked to increased muscle spasms, which include period cramps. It can also reduce bloating. Water retention is when fluid is pulled from blood vessels and is absorbed by the surrounding tissue. It means your body is not utilizing it in the best way, and as a result, many women experience bloating and constipation during their period. The best way to combat that is to avoid saltier foods and drink a lot of water. Not drinking enough will also increase that sluggish feeling a lot of women feel during their menstrual cycle, especially for women with a heavy flow. There’s also a train of thought that staying hydrated will help keep the blood thinner and allow your period to end sooner as a result. Your body will be able to get rid of the tissue and blood at a faster pace than if you were not drinking enough water. If water isn’t your cup of tea, try different kinds of teas. Cold or hot, there are many varieties from fruity to minty. One thing to avoid is too much sugar as that won’t help your overall health, but if you use alternative sweet options, like stevia or honey, you can enjoy something on the sweeter side to swallow that water a little easier. There are also fruit infused water options to give you a little taste without being overbearing. Wherever your taste buds take you, staying hydrated is one of the best ways for an easier period.

Having a heavy period can be a pain in more ways than one, figuratively and literally. It can be scary and tiring, especially for those who are still seeking answers. Staying open and honest with your doctor and staying open-minded to trying new things helps you to wade through the bombardment of different possibilities. You will likely find contradictory information as what works for one woman may not be best for another, but if you stay focused on your personal health and maintaining the practices that work well for your body, you can enjoy your period days just as much as your non-period days. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask trusted medical sources questions, no matter how trivial you think they are. Your doctors are there to help you stay healthy. Follow their advice and remember that there could be a simple fix for your period troubles.

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